Gzyl / Caracas, Departure City

Caracas, Departure City Ethnography of Caretaking

Author: Stefan Gzyl, TU Delft

Supervisor: Marc Schoonderbeek, TU Delft; Aleksandar Staničić, TU Delft

Research stage: initial doctoral stage

Category: Paper

DDR Statement

Design is not a straight line from A to B. Following Nelson Goodman, one can compare design to hunting. As such, what counts is “not the kill but what is learned from the territory explored.” 1 Herein lies a possibility for design-driven research.

My research aims to conceptualize Caracas as a unique instance of departure city. It will observe, gather, and document how caretakers’ practices transform vacant spaces, resulting in new sites for social life, economic opportunities, forms of solidarity, and implicating locals in migration dynamics. Initially, the project will cover a broad territory, immerse, explore, meander, retrace its steps, focused on moving through, not arriving at. It will chart a course and constantly revise it through findings, reflecting on local experiences of departure through architectural ethnography and expanding on the tools used to describe them. Later, it will catalog these findings into an assemblage composed of multiple and contrasting parts. Understanding design as both a process of choosing and an act of synthesis that can approximate disparate elements, the project hopes to preserve the open, fluid, and manifold readings of what is essentially a shifting, uncertain reality.

Questions I hope to address are: Shifting the focus from product to process, what does the research produce along the way and what is the knowledge contained there? How have others approached this question? How can drawings, photographs, plans or maps come together to produce knowledge about the world? If design can make creative leaps, how to ensure these don’t result in knowledge gaps or ‘leaps of faith’?

  1. Goodman, Nelson (1978): Ways of Worldmaking. Indianapolis. Hackett Publishing.