Making things happen: experiments in prototyping from a hospital design lab
Bill, A; Collier, G; Reay, S
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In this paper we focus on design experimentation and prototyping within a hospital design lab. We describe how things designed within this environment act as socio-technical entities that support the work of the hospital. In this research, healthcare is viewed as a socio-material assemblage, and the hospital as a complex, heterogeneous community needing to deal constructively with problems brought into its orbit by the public. User issues, such as how to become a ‘patient’, how to find experts, toilets or food; how long to expect to wait for treatment - even how to leave the building - are barriers to building ‘patient–centeredness’ and developing a ‘culture of care’. They become matters of concern for administrators, who are keen to make hospitals more friendly and approachable. Drawing on new materialist approaches and using ethnographic research methods we show how the prototyping work in the DHW Lab builds a platform for collaboration between healthcare experts and users, through the material agency of ‘prototyped things’. We argue that the prototypes act as participants in experimental assemblages that bring together user and expert mindsets and help move healthcare design from ‘what is’ to ‘what could be’.