Innovative construction and the role of boundary objects: a Gehry case study
- Publication Type:
- Journal Article
- Construction Management and Economics, 2016, 34 (10), pp. 688 - 699
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© 2016 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. Physical objects have long been used in addressing the challenges involved in constructing innovative buildings, yet their significance for collaborative problem solving in inter-organizational projects is rarely acknowledged. The aim of this research is to investigate what happens when a project team has to collaboratively innovate to address radical design challenges in a construction setting. We focus on the role of a full-scale mock-up of a façade in transforming the design intent for a building by Frank Gehry into design realization. The concept of boundary objects is used as an analytical lens via a case study methodology utilizing non-participant observation of weekly meetings and workshops over a period of 10 months covering client, consultant and contractor involvement. The research shows the role of mock-ups in radical construction settings is in tension along three delivery dimensions: performance, aesthetic and technical construction. Task completion competed with the requirements for experimentation around innovative problem solving with the how to construct it problem left unresolved. The findings suggest that co-location and synchronicity are critical conditions for collaborative and innovative problem solving in radical construction contexts. Project teams need to create open-ended ‘moments’ for iterating critical objects and the interactions that take place around them.
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