IMPACT OF COLLABORATIVE VIRTUAL ENVIRONMENTS ON DESIGN BEHAVIOUR
A collaborative design environment makes assumptions about how the designers communicate and represent their design ideas. These assumptions, including the availability of sketching, 3D modelling, and walking around virtual worlds with avatars, effectively make some actions easier and others more difficult. An analysis of design behaviour in different virtual environments can highlight the impact and benefits of the different tools/environments and their assumptions. This paper reports on a study of three pairs of designers collaborating on design tasks of similar complexity using a different design environment for each task: face to face sketching, remote sketching, and 3D virtual world. Comparing the behaviour patterns and design actions we conclude that the characteristics of design process are quite different in sketching and 3D world environments. While sketching, the architects more frequently moved between the problem and solution spaces, dealing with analysis and synthesis of ideas. The same architects focused on synthesis of the objects, visually analysing the representation, and managing the tasks to model the design when they were in the 3D virtual world.
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