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Knotworking and the visibilization of learning in building design

Hannele Kerosuo (Department of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)
Tarja Mäki (Department of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)
Jenni Korpela (Department of Behavioural Sciences, Institute of Behavioural Sciences, University of Helsinki, Helsinki, Finland)

Journal of Workplace Learning

ISSN: 1366-5626

Article publication date: 2 March 2015




This paper aims to study the visibilization of learning in the context of developing a new collaborative practice, knotworking, in building design. The case under study describes the process of learning from the initiation of knotworking to its experimentation. The implementation of new building information modeling tools acted as an impetus for this development.


The research is based on activity-theoretically oriented ethnographic research. The four analytical steps created by Engeström (1999) for analyzing the expansive visibilization of learning are applied in the analysis.


The envisioning of the idea of knotworking involved the first and the second steps of visibilization. First, a flowchart made the ideal process of design visible and triggered a discussion on the problems and requirements emerging in the project members’ work. Second, an idea for a new type of collaboration was introduced as a solution to these problems and requirements. Planning the knotworking experiment and explicating the associated design instruments involved the third step of expansive visibilization. The fourth step of visibilization took place during the experiment of knotworking in a design project.

Practical implications

Two other knotworking projects have already been conducted, and plans have been made to commercialize knotworking in building design. New technical tools have been developed for energy calculation and the comparison of alternative design requirements.

Social implications

Knotworking can improve the collaboration between designers with positive implications on the quality of a building design process.


Development and learning are studied as a longitudinal process in the construction industry.



Authors acknowledge the contribution of the Editor of the Special Issue and the two anonymous reviewers. They also acknowledge Model Nova project group, Sim Lab at Aalto University, the industrial partners of the Model Nova project group, the City planning of Kuopio and the community of Syväniemi. The funding from the Finnish Funding Agency for Technology and Innovation, the partners in Finnish construction industry and University of Helsinki is gratefully received. They also want acknowledge the contributions of RYM Oy and the Built Environment Process Re-engineering Programme level. Special thanks due to Julie Uusinarkaus for editing the language.


Kerosuo, H., Mäki, T. and Korpela, J. (2015), "Knotworking and the visibilization of learning in building design", Journal of Workplace Learning, Vol. 27 No. 2, pp. 128-141.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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