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Early Design Collaboration in construction projects can be hampered by misunderstandings between team members. Consequently, design actions are not supported by all, causing delays and frustration. This paper presents a study aiming to capture (a) misunderstandings between participants at early design stages, and (b) how these individuals resolved such misunderstandings through shared understanding. An exploratory case study was conducted to investigate collaborative interactions of a Design Team, in an Architecture Office in San Francisco (USA). Data was collected during a concept design charrette focused at the building envelope of a Medical Office Building. Results from Protocol Analysis revealed misunderstandings emerging through independent actions and wrong assumptions among the participants, which triggered breakdowns in communication and the use of metaphors to construct shared understanding. This paper proposes a conceptual framework to explain the dynamics of shared understanding in early design stages, which could be used to help design teams to map, reflect about and improve their collaborative interactions.
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