Architects and end users: Boundary objects in participatory briefing and design

Kari Hovin Kjølle, Siri Hunnes Blakstad


This paper addresses the tools of interaction between architects and
end users in briefing and design. The empirical basis is a case study conducted
as action research in a briefing process related to a new office
solution in a Norwegian context. The first part addresses the tools that
act as boundary objects within the community of end users and across
the community of architect-researchers. There is a specific focus on the
development of a functional brief. The second part explores how the
functional brief is perceived as an obstacle by the architect-designers.
The description of the users demands became a residual category. The
boundary objects were not stable, but dependent on context, time and
the actors involved. Our conclusion is that a toolbox of different artefacts
and methods will not facilitate a process alone. In order to cross
the boundaries between the different social communities of practice,
the users collective self-knowledge must be effectively communicated
to the designers. Our experience is that the architects use of their own
experience as a source of knowledge can result in a lack of interest in
the users functional brief and generate designs that are less usable for
the purpose. An interesting issue for further research would be the architects
role and attitude towards interaction and collaboration with
clients and users.

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