Power plays: Designers, users and interactive digital technology
Other conference contribution, 2018

The potential of emerging new digital technologies to support managing design and construction processes has been widely addressed in the literature. However, most studies stress the effect of technology on performing design activities whilst giving limited attention to the emerging new practices of designers and users engaging in these new, digitally-based work settings. We adopt a practice-based perspective to shift the focus from studying the impact of digital technologies on design work to understanding how the emerging practices of design stakeholders' engagement become configured in novel technological environments. The case examined is a ‘real-life’ design project for a new hospital in Sweden wherein a mixed digital technology environment was used to support designers' and end-users' engagement during a workshop for briefing the design of the operating theatre. The methodology draws on observation and video recordings of the design workshop performed in the VR setting. The particular environment features seamless integration of a multi-touch table and several immersive VR-systems that support interactive and collaborative design work. Analysis of interactions between designers and users in thinking about the designed space within the VR environment reveals three thematic aspects - around the intersection of design and medical practices and expertise in the VR setting, the participants' collaborative configuring of the design for the operating theatre and of the designing space encountered in the VR environment. The findings indicate distinct dynamics around the empowerment of users, enabled by the use of the interactive smart board, the negotiation and shaping of design through interaction of the two practices’ discourses, and how this relates to moving across the various representational means available- the range of technologies and bodily gestures and movement to visualise dimensions and enact the use of the space.

design practice

design engagement

users' empowerment

virtual reality (VR)

practice-based approach


Laura Maftei

University of Reading

Mattias Roupé

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Construction Management

Mikael Johansson

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Construction Management

Chris Harty

University of Reading

Chalmers, Architecture and Civil Engineering, Construction Management

34th Annual ARCOM Conference
Belfast, United Kingdom,

Subject Categories


Interaction Technologies

Human Computer Interaction

Areas of Advance

Building Futures (2010-2018)

More information

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7/2/2020 4