IT-CODE: IT in COllaborative DEsign

Yoke-Chin Lai

    Research output: Book/ReportPh.D. thesis

    2703 Downloads (Pure)


    The Building Industry is characterized by its project-oriented nature. A project team is usually formed by multidisciplinary professionals who collaborate based on project-basis work agreements. The efficiency of the contract-basis collaboration in different project phases, especially in the early design phase, has been a problematic concern of the building sector. There are several reasons behind these collaboration barriers, each of which has formed the basis of a broad spectrum of research interests. In this thesis, significant writings in the ICT (Information & Communication Technology) implementation aspect have been reviewed to provide insight into the scope and depth of research that has been performed in an attempt to fully understand this area. How designers have handled design information in real-life situations was studied through several case studies in an attempt to answer the formulated research questions. Observations complemented with semistructured interviews were decided as the optimum data collection mechanisms based on various practical issues that could not be overlooked. The key step that brought forth the research hypothesis, to improve the designers’ practices in more efficient design information handling, was the results of the case studies. The findings of the case studies revealed that the designer’s current documentation practices were insufficient to assist tacit design knowledge (e.g., design rationale) transfer. Tacit design knowledge transfer occurs in all types of face-to-face meetings and was found as one of the favourable means of designers to coordinate design progress. These findings have pushed the research forward to another stage where research hypothesis was refined. The refined hypothesis focused on a higher level of information management improvement, which is defined as total-knowledge-management in the thesis. The concept of total-knowledge-management was inspired by relevant research efforts in the area. A hypothetical approach was defined based on the concept of totalknowledge- management, in an attempt to assist design /decision reasoning capture, dissemination, store and efficient retrieval. Findings from the case studies confirmed that designers have been used to recording meeting contents in a document, which is called meeting minutes. This documentation practice was thus adapted as the blueprint of a prototype, which was the planned research outcome. The prototype was envisioned to be an alternative tool for the designers to manage design information through managing meeting minutes in a slightly different way from the conventionally used mechanism. A comparison between the conventional meeting minutes documentation mechanism with the proposed hypothetical approach is discussed comprehensively in the thesis. Ontology is the silver bullet of the Semantic Web because it can be used to provide a semantic structure for a resources network that is shared using the World-Wide-Web technology. The advantages of restructuring resources network based on shared conceptualizations represented in ontology were also reviewed. The rapidly developing Semantic Web technology has provided a playing field in which various open-source tools and web-based ontology languages, including the Resource Description Framework and its Schema, usually abbreviated to RDF(S), are equipped. Some of these facilities were first reviewed then applied during the prototype development process. However, this early stage of prototype is only good enough to demonstrate the concept of the hypothetical approach at the time of writing because, among other things, the foundation technology of the Semantic Web is not yet mature. A comprehensive discussion in this regard is given in this thesis. The experience from the prototype development process showed that more effort is required to further improve the currently available ICT, in particular in the human-machine interaction aspect, as suggested in the last section of the thesis.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationAalborg
    PublisherDepartment of Civil Engineering, Aalborg University
    Number of pages183
    Publication statusPublished - 2006
    SeriesDCE Thesis


    • Building industry
    • Collaboration
    • Early design
    • Meeting minutes
    • Total-knowledge-management
    • Semantic Web
    • Ontology

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