Using artefacts to mediate understanding in design conversations

Luck, Rachael (2007). Using artefacts to mediate understanding in design conversations. Building Research & Information, 35(1) pp. 28–41.




The journey from the concept of a building to the actual built form is mediated with the use of various artefacts, such as drawings, product samples and models. These artefacts are produced for different purposes and for people with different levels of understanding of the design and construction processes. This paper studies design practice as it occurs naturally in a real-world situation by observing the conversations that surround the use of artefacts at the early stages of a building's design. Drawing on ethnographic data, insights are given into how the use of artefacts can reveal a participant's understanding of the scheme. The appropriateness of the method of conversation analysis to reveal the users' understanding of a scheme is explored by observing spoken micro-interactional behaviours. It is shown that the users' understanding of the design was developed in the conversations around the use of artefacts, as well as the knowledge that is embedded in the artefacts themselves. The users' confidence in the appearance of the building was considered to be gained in conversation, rather than the ability of the artefacts to represent a future reality.

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