Design Research as an Instrument of Empathy and Resilience: A Case Study in Porto on Reclusion in a Collective House


Considering the reality of international students who were quarantined in Portuguese student halls of residence during the initial confinement period of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020, this article argues for the role of design research as an instrument of empathy to foster resilience in situations of heightened emotional stress such as the reclusion lived during this period. The study is driven by the participant observation of increasing isolation, fear, and emotional distress experienced by international students in confinement in a hall of residence at the University of Porto, Portugal. We base our theoretic discussion on concepts of empathy and sense of belonging, applied to the reality of student halls of residence and international students’ experience. We used the ethnographic method, namely participant observation, semi-structured in-depth interviews, and capture of images to analyze the testimonies of thirty-six international students interviewed between May and September 2020 about their confinement and welcoming experiences within the residence. Research findings range from a relevant repository of interviews on international students’ feelings towards the pandemic period while in halls of residence, the need for resilience in identifying opportunities amid adversity, to a lag in the current welcoming model of the residence. The expected outcomes are to design a prototype of a welcoming program at the University of Porto halls of residence that include but is not limited to a welcome package based on the identified lagging in the current residence welcoming model, literature review, and other case studies on Porto student halls of residence.

Author Information
Marcela Rosa, University of Porto, Portugal
Teresa Franqueira, University of Aveiro, Portugal
Susana Barreto, University of Porto, Portugal

Paper Information
Conference: ECADE2022
Stream: Design for Society

This paper is part of the ECADE2022 Conference Proceedings (View)
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To cite this article:
Rosa M., Franqueira T., & Barreto S. (2022) Design Research as an Instrument of Empathy and Resilience: A Case Study in Porto on Reclusion in a Collective House ISSN: 2758-0989 – The European Conference on Arts, Design & Education 2022 Official Conference Proceedings
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Posted by James Alexander Gordon