Visual Index of Spatial (In)Justice in Central America

This open-source platform seeks to gather information and knowledge about spatial (in)justice in informal settlements in Central America through the use of technology and participatory and community-driven processes.

MIT D-Lab Class

Entrepreneurship for the Idealist


Oscar Zamora, Harvard Graduate School of Design. Oscar is an architect and researcher with 10 years of experience between Latin America and the United States. He is currently pursuing a post-professional degree candidate in Architecture at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design.


Central America with pilot project in Nicaragua

Project description

The Visual Index of Spatial (In)Justice in Central America is an interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral portal that aims to unite academics, students, and the community in identifying, systematizing, and visualizing issues related to spatial (in)justice in Central America. This open-source platform seeks to gather information and knowledge about spatial injustice through participatory and community-driven processes. Moreover, it employs visual techniques such as architectural,  urban analysis, and digital modeling techniques to gather evidence and present it in the service of participatory urban planning, spatial justice investigations, and support for communities facing localized issues.

The project seeks to give a voice to individuals who are not recognized as holders of knowledge or power in the urban the planning process of Central American cities. Spatial justice implies the Right to the City, which entails the right to shape the City to one’s desires and interfere in its affairs.

The proposal’s value lies in the democratization of information, the creation of community networks, the participation of residents, and the collective intelligence of people that the process engenders.

The pilot project focuses on public space, safety, and women’s experiences in Barrio La Candelaria, an informal settlement in the center of Managua, Nicaragua. Space is not merely a physical structure but an actively co-constructed phenomenon that impacts people’s embodied and affective feelings. Different socioeconomic status, cultural backgrounds, and gender can result in varying experiences of space and create (un)just spaces that violate individuals’ rights to equal access to public resources. This isolation can cause individuals to withdraw from public life, reducing their visibility and representation in decisions that affect their lives. Through the Participatory Development Approach (PDA), the project aims to promote the local community’s inclusion in the planning and research processes to strengthen their sense of the project ownership.


Manish Bhardwaj, Entrepreneurship for the Idealist Instructor