UM / urban_managua

URBAN MANAGUA / Academic Partnership in Integrated Urban Development Studies – an interdisciplinary approach for the sustainable development of spontaneous human settlements in the central urban area of Managua/Nicaragua.

urban_managua (UM) introduces creative urban design tools and innovative methodologies in urban studies in the curriculum of architecture and related disciplines (urban sociology, history, etc.) at Universidad Centroamericana (UCA). A main objective is the integration of academic, practical and socio-cultural approaches and the response to the needs/demands for improved living conditions in Spontaneous Human Settlements (SHS) in the central urban area of Managua/Nicaragua.

Over a two-year period, the project has three interrelated specific objectives: Firstly, UM aims to strengthen educational and applied research skills in the academic curriculum of urban planners and researchers through an interdisciplinary partnership between the UCA, IEI, UT Vienna and other primary stakeholders in this field. Integrated Development Studies (IUDS) will be introduced and institutionalised in UCA’s urban studies discipline and will allow an integral and interdisciplinary urban planning approach that is demand/needs-driven and community-based.

A second objective is to foster a permanent South-South dialogue between academics and practitioners to strengthen the relation and cooperation between urban planning academics (“know why”) and practitioners (“know how”) on an international, regional (i.e. Central- and South American) and local level. Therefore national and international professionals act as guest lecturers in classes and give expert critiques on practical works.

Thirdly, the project will also contribute to improving the local livelihood conditions of the families of Barrio La Candelaria, an informal settlement in the mere centre of Managua where the student workshop and accompanying academic research will take place throughout the project. Important is a Participatory Development Approach (PDA) on a local level throughout the project, which implements cultural activities to promote the local community’s inclusion in the planning and research processes, thereby strengthening their sense of project ownership. The aim is therefore not only a theoretical one but also a specific contribution to poverty alleviation.

The main activities at a glance

Preparatory Studies (October 2012 – March 2013)

These Studies deal with the history of urban development in the city of Managua, its management processes during natural disasters, economic crises and civil wars, analysing the different actors involved in urban planning and related legal aspects.

International Urban Design Laboratory (6th – 20th of April 2014)

The International Urban Design Laboratory aims for students and professors of both universities, UCA and UT Vienna, to work together with the IEI on an interdisciplinary urban design concept for the improvement of the SHS Barrio La Candelaria in Managua.

International Symposium on Integrated Urban Development Studies (23rd – 26th of September 2013 & September 2014)

The symposium will be a platform for disseminating the results of the International Urban Design Laboratory and to share ‘best-practice’ experiences from South American experts from Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Bogotá and Medellin (South-South dialogue).

UrbanistXchange (October 2013 – March 2014)

UrbanistXchange aims to bring together Nicaraguan urbanists, planners and architects with other fellow Latin American planners experienced in this field through providing grants for study trips to successful project sites.

Accompanying Interdisciplinary Research (April 2013 – September 2014)

As a result, the study of urban studies has adopted interdisciplinary methodologies that incorporate socio-cultural approaches in order to recognise the plurality of social subjects, local agents and transforming forces of the complex and often challenging social reality in cities.

Socio-cultural activities (January 2013 – September 2014)

Another particularity in the design is a systematic connection of research with an artistic component, such as art interventions, sculptures or installations in the urban public space. A targeted cooperation between scientists and artists is encouraged throughout the project.


Pictures of Managua / Nicaragua before and after the earthquake in 1972:


URBAN MANAGUA / Academic Partnership in Integrated Urban Development Studies – an interdisciplinary approach for the sustainable development of spontaneous human settlements in the central urban area of Managua/Nicaragua.

Urban Managua is funded by the Austrian Development Coporation (ADC) and Land Oberösterreich.

Universidad Centroamericana, Managua/Nicaragua (Veronica MORA, MSc.), Fundación Casa de los Tres Mundos, Granada/Nicaragua (William MONATO, MSc.), Vienna University of Technology, Vienna/Austria (Univ.-Prof. Andreas HOFER, Roland KREBS, MSc.).

Project Duration 1 October 2012 – 30 September 2014