miércoles, 7 de octubre de 2009

Flexible Mapping (abstract)

It is agreed that the study of the city should begin with individuals and groups, and it should keep its focus in the inhabitant that dwells on it. But, since cities are also physical phenomena, with a defined shape and characteristics and, moreover, they are the object of study and intervention of architects and urban planners, a practical approach should be taken. If lived experience is more important than the physical form of the city, then, the last one is bound to be a response to the first one.

The research in urbanism aiming to the development of new urban models, projects and solutions should begin with the study of the event – the experience, the everydayness – in the urban tissues, and how both develop different types of relationships, conflictive or less so. From the spontaneous (almost chaotic) experience of going to a street market or taking non-formal 15 passenger vehicles for public transport to the actual use of services provided by government institutions, the user’s approach and its own particular point of view is a pivotal element in urban research.

It is hereby proposed a new approach to research in situ, beginning in the architecture classrooms that combines the students’ actual using of urban spaces with the adjustment of existing information gathering and mapping methods. The product of this kind of research would be, thus, the combination of the experiences in the said everydayness and the particular characteristics of that specific urban space.

Due to practical reasons, we cannot pretend to create out of scratch new mapping techniques for every urban space we are facing. Methods proposed by the cathedra should begin with being flexible and therefore, susceptible to variations in situ, and they should be subject to a constant evaluation process through their use during field research.

Students themselves are a very important mapping instrument, since their approach to the subject tends to be less biased, without the mistrust or artificiality in the relation that professionals tend to provoke while doing field research. Students become then part of the event occurring in the urban space they are studying.

Presenting as case study the experience of this year Encounter of Architecture Students in Peru (CONEA 09) in which such a study took place in a neighborhood in the suburbia of Lima, different mapping methods are analyzed, as well as their results featuring students as tools in urban research.

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