In Due Time: Decision-Making in Architectural Design of Hospitals
Springer International Publishing
We analyze the cooperative work involved in creating the architectural design of a hospital based upon digital technologies of the future, before we know whether future digital technologies will be mature and reliable enough for use. The entire process, from initial architectural design until opening of the hospital for patients, takes approximately 10 years, which is a significant amount of time considering the hitherto pace of digital technology development. Therefore, due time decision-making is essential. We conceptualize due time in cooperative design work as a quality measurement of whether “the right path” is followed when alternative future paths are available, without reducing the space for design maneuverability prematurely. But how do we determine the “right path” in due time? By exploring the ways in which artefacts are used to achieve due time decision-making on future digital technologies in hospital design, we find that artefacts are used to assess the relationship between dependencies and sequences of activities with the aim of pushing all irreversible decisions for design as far as possible. Thus, we argue that the practices of handling due time decision-making in complex cooperative activities are characterized as the practices of handling the relationships between dependencies, sequentiality, and irreversibility of the material matter (in our case the future hospital) shaping the course of action.