The Office Scrabble Game: Co-Designing Workspaces with the Everyday as a Resource in Design Games

A publication by Christina Lundsgaard & Eva Brandt

The Office Scrabble Game is a powerful tool for designers and architects. The design game supports reframing work life by involving employees in exploring existing and future everyday work practices. 

Working with the design game

The Everyday is Always in a State of Becoming 

Architecture is the production of both physical and social spaces. According to Science and Technology Studies, there will never be a clear and stable definition of what it is, as it is always in a state of becoming (Law, 2004). Thus, as researchers and practitioners we need to perceive social (work) life as an ongoing development process; despite not being framed as such. If we want to work with socio-design material, we have to acknowledge that one cannot start with a clean slate.  

In recent years, there seems to be a renewed interest from both design researchers and practicing architects in doing fieldwork and using design games as a way of structuring participation. For instance, Horgen et al. (1999) and Frost (2005) have successfully used design games as part of the initial specification of an architectural design program. Still, in the literature, we are missing a thorough analysis of what happens in game-playing situations when the everyday within a particular space is at stake.  

The chapter is partly based on the doctoral thesis ‘Web of design encounters – everyday work life as an open-ended material in an exploratory and ongoing design process’ by the first author, Christina Lundsgaard (2016); which explores this problematic.  

The analysis of the Office Scrabble Game is inspired by Actor-Network Theory (ANT) that considers humans as well as non-humans as equal actors who influence each other (Latour, 2005), and hence the production of, e.g., space. Like “things” in general, buildings (conceptual as well as actual) are not stable objects, but rather they are part of a network that helps connect people in ever-changing configurations. As an assemblage of things, the building participates in the production of the social world (Yaneva, 2009); and in a relationship, human and non-human actors are both the result and the effect of the networks that allow buildings to unfold. Latour (2005) claims that things, or an assemblage of things, have the ability to raise matters of concern because they make people act. Designing buildings in this respect is to make issues spatial and concrete, as well as to create spaces that allow people and things to connect and form the social fabric. This is what the book chapter is about. 

The book chapter is published in ‘The Routledge Companion to Games in Architecture and Urban Planning: Tools for design, teaching and research’ edited by Marta Brkovic Dodig and Linda N. Groat (2020). Pp. 47 – 59.  

Published by Routledge 2020, imprint of Taylor & Francis Group

Linke to the full book:

Contact: Eva Brandt, PhD, Professor, Leader of the Lab for Social Design, E-mail: eb[@]

Share this post:
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Join our news letter

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Get notified when we post a new article