End User Participation as an Input to Shape the Brief in Architectural Competitions - A Threefold Translation Process

Marianne Stang Våland


In this paper, the potential relationship between two design processes that are traditionally regarded as independent: the architectural and the organizational respectively, is being considered and discussed through the implications that end user participation might have on the written brief, upon which an architectural competition is being based. The empirical context is the establishment of a new municipality town hall outside of Copenhagen, Denmark. In this project, end user participation has served as a vehicle to
induce the design process, while results from the participational activities have provided a provisional input to form the competition brief. This
process of transference: from participation to brief and subsequently to design, discloses a complicated endeavor, in which the outcome of the end user participation is being brought through various phases of translation; interpretation and coding. The paper is a preliminary illustration of three particular instances of coding moments of translation in which features
that traditionally characterize the two design processes involved (the architectural and the organizational) in such a setup somehow get
entangled. The paper suggests that end user participation might form an organizational parameter in the process of designing architecture, and tentatively discusses how such a design criterion might form a challenge for contemporary architects in terms of professional identity and work method. Although not at all fully unfolded in the following text, concepts that derive from ethnography, communities of practice and actornetwork theory have served as inspiration.

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