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Co-creation tools for Architecture

Today I found a very nice example of what I’m researching in my PhD program. Liz Sanders is a well know practitioner that have written mainly about using expressive tools for users to collaborate in design process. Her papers always have some colorful pictures like that:

Today I discovered through a record talk she gave at Delft that she’s working inside an architectural firm, trying to push co-creation as a strategic move. From designing for, co-creation is changing the organization to designing with. They hope this change will create opportunities for working with the clients after delivering master plans.

They started doing vision workshops at the very beginning of the projects, focusing on defining the characteristics of the experiences the environment will support. Then, they experimented planning collaboratively the space usage. Architects were amazed that patients elaborated interesting floor plans for hospital room.

Patient experience is something that the upper management is very concerned, since it impacts on profit. But it’s also a concern for nurses. When asked to design a room using 3D doll models, they started with the patient bed, their TV, and other stuff pertaining to them. Just after that, they started putting nurse’s working tools. The difference from the upper management is that nurses really know how patients feel living there for weeks.

My research goal is to develop tools for this kind of collaboration, but I’ll explore using simulations. The work of Sanders is important to me to remember that the tools should be expressive and easily manipulated and shared by participants, enabling them to use their concrete knowledge about things.

The project below, for example, is a touchscreen table for floor planning. The table can afford not only finger taps, but also pen write. You can write very loose lines and get it transformed in a perfect square automatically. This is clever, but not well suited for group collaboration. Its focus is on specifying the plan, not exploring scenarios, changing things here and there and discussing about the effects. But the Touch & Write platform looks promising. I’ll keep an eye on it.

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