This paper reports a design experiment with first year.s students in two European countries .It reviews the role that computers can play in the early design stages and considers how far recent developments in commercial software have enabled designers to improve their design performance using CAAD systems. The authors are teaching architectural design in first and forth year in two European countries and are also involved in teaching Computer Aided Architectural Design. The starting point for our experiment was the fact that we realized that most of the students in our faculties still start their design with pen and paper. Although they introduce the computer quite early in the design process now their first design ideas were mainly visualized in sketches. Is this because of the often stated limitations of hard and software or because we start to teach them to sketch when we do design? This paper attempts to address some of the issues and find some answers.