A distinct feature that characterise the building project as a cognitive process is the transformation of thoughts into built physical objects. Being a complex human activity, this process typically involves several influential actors, each driven in different ways by their own aims, competencies and goals. A critical challenge to the value potential of the project development, is that of retaining a shared goal across the influential actors and their different agendas.

This paper investigates modalization as it unfolds in a collaborative project process as the cognitive feature of qualifying and disseminating input (information) towards a project`s development from concept to physical object. The case study furthermore goes to demonstrate how certain modalities carry on as affordances between the new built environment and its users.

By mapping the information content of the cognitive process of early phase concept development in an empirical case study of an actual, built project, we aim to re-engineer the synthetic process of concept development. In doing so we gain an analytic viewpoint on the cognitive process, and furthermore provide some new insights into the problem of retaining the built object as a shared goal across the project organisation and through the construction process.

Our findings indicate that a large share of conceptual concerns were diverted towards processual concerns such as "how to get it built" as opposed to a focus on "what to build" – as in the future affordances of the physical product of the development. Upon uncovering this difference between the cognitive modalities of process VS product concerns, we aim to contextualise this dynamic by comparing the metaphysical and pragmatic difference, reflected by the ontological transformation from concept to physical object. It is this transformation that produces the affordances that represent the value of the architectural object.

By connecting modalities of information to physical modalities, we aim to make a direct connection between distinct features of cognition and the added value potential embedded in the affordances of the product in a project development. This production of added value, in the life of the user, depends on directing the cognitive labour of a project team towards a shared object of thought, which in the case of a building project must be the physical object, as this is the cognitive joint which enables continuity between design, (production) and use.