Designing together apart : computer supported collaborative design in architecture

Kvan, Thomas (1999). Designing together apart : computer supported collaborative design in architecture. PhD thesis The Open University.



The design of computer tools to assist in work has often attempted to replicate manual methods. This replication has been proven to fail in a diversity of fields such as business management, Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and Computer- Supported Collaborative Work (CSCW). To avoid such a failure being repeated in the field of Computer-Supported Collaborative Design (CSCD), this thesis explores the postulation that CSCD does not have to be supported by tools which replicate the face-to-face design context to support distal architectural design. The thesis closely examines the prevailing position that collaborative design is a social and situated act which must therefore be supported by high bandwidth tools. This formulation of architectural collaboration is rejected in favour of the formulation of a collaborative expert act. This proposal is tested experimentally, the results of which are presented. Supporting expert behaviour requires different tools than the support of situated acts. Surveying research in computer-supported collaborative work (CSCW), the thesis identifies tools that support expert work. The results of the research is transferred to two contexts: teaching and practice. The applications in these two contexts illustrate how CSCD can be applied in a variety of bandwidth and technological conditions. The conclusion is that supporting collaborative design as an expert and knowledge-based act can be beneficially implemented in the teaching and practice of architecture.

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