Epistemic Features of Representational Artifacts in Cross-Disciplinary Design Practices: a Location Planning Workshop for an Outpatient Center

Vedran Zerjav, Timo Hartmann, Geert Dewulf

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Design processes in collaborative cross-disciplinary arrangements are a subject of growing interest in both research and practice. In such settings the design knowledge is generated through interactions across expert communities of practice. Representational artifacts such as not only drawings and sketches, but also interactive computer models are used to facilitate this interactive process. In spite of a relatively well-established body of research on the role of objects in cross-disciplinary design practices in AEC, not much is known about learning that occurs in the context of these practices as they are mediated by representational artifacts. To this end, this study aims to explore diverse epistemic practices that emerge around a complex representational artifact (RA) in the form of a computer simulation model. To explore these features, the paper presents an exploratory study of a location planning workshop for a new outpatient diagnostic center in the Netherlands in which a RA was introduced to support discussions regarding the form and structure of the outpatient health services being developed. Findings suggest that the RA instigated a collaborative effort at the boundary between disparate domains of knowledge: healthcare service design and the planning of the built infrastructure to support these services. Furthermore, the fluid nature of the RA objectified the unit of analysis in service design and, at the same time, informed the design of the built infrastructure for healthcare provision. The paper calls for further research into the epistemic features of objects in crossdisciplinary design interactions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the Engineering Project Organization Conference, EPOC 2014
Subtitle of host publicationJuly 29-31, 2014, Devil's Thumb Ranch, Colorado, USA
EditorsPaul Chan, Robert Leicht
Place of PublicationTabernash, CO, USA
Number of pages15
Publication statusPublished - 2014
EventEngineering Project Organization Conference 2014 - Winter Park, United States
Duration: 29 Jul 201431 Jul 2014

Publication series

NameWorking Paper Proceedings


ConferenceEngineering Project Organization Conference 2014
Abbreviated titleEPOC 2014
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityWinter Park
Internet address


  • Collaborative cross-disciplinary design
  • Healthcare services
  • Epistemic objects
  • Exploratory case studies,
  • Engineering project organizations


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