Mapping the Vernacular Symposium returns 10/19

Participatory Mapping, Las Flores, Barranquilla, Colombia

Mapping the Vernacular Symposium returns 10/19

Mapping the Vernacular is a half-day seminar and workshop on the application of new technologies to facilitate community-driven sustainable development in urban informal environments. The work is funded by the National Geographic Society with additional support from Fundación Tecnoglass ESWindows and IDSC.

Mapping the Vernacular explores how new drone survey technologies can be used in conjunction with established participatory data gathering methods to rapidly gather and produce community-prioritized information. The combined methodology encourages storytelling from both physical—the built and natural environment—and cultural perspectives in the communities. Products include digital 3D models, high-resolution scaled aerial imagery, maps, oral histories, a census style survey, a public participatory GIS system (P/PGIS), a novel urban design concept, and a model document for data sharing agreements and a data governance board. The project is based on the assumption that the cooperative collection, review, and discussion of data, combined with dissemination through stories and maps, leads to opportunities for a more just and sustainable society.

Wednesday, October 19, 2022 | 9:00 AM – 2:00 PM 

The event will be hosted at the University of Miami Coral Gables campus.

Who Should Attend

Anyone interested in sustainable development, urban design, drone survey technologies, photogrammetry, geographic information systems (GIS), and community engagement with mapping and data collection projects.


By 2050 the United Nations estimates that 66 percent of the world population will be urban, and a large part of this urban population will join, or create new, informal communities in conditions of poverty. Nearly one billion people within this urban population currently live in such communities which are generally undocumented, lack land tenure, are comprised of non-durable or overcrowded housing, and are beyond the reach of government services and infrastructure. Challenges faced by residents include; lack of personal security, insufficient public health measures, and limited access to potable water sources. Additionally, residents of informal communities also face increased exposure to environmental hazards resulting in a greater risk for adverse health effects, particularly in children, as well as being in locations that are “highly vulnerable to natural disasters and are expected to experience the greatest impact of climate change” (UN 2014). Addressing such unplanned urban expansion is a principle challenge for sustainable development for the foreseeable future.

mapping the vernacular

During an approximate ten-month period from October 2018 to July 2019, the team worked to facilitate participatory data collection and mapping in Las Flores, Barranquilla Colombia. This informal settlement located at the mouth of the Magdalena River, and adjacent to the Ciénaga de Mallorquin (a lagoon on the Caribbean Sea), was established approximately 70 years ago. Initially founded as a worker’s camp and fishing community, it is largely built on landfill that continually extends further into the Ciénaga. Two-thirds surrounded by water, and otherwise adjacent to factories and industrial spaces, Las Flores is a residential island, separate by kilometers from other residential areas of Barranquilla. Las Flores consists of approximately 2500 dwellings (~10,000 people) with varying degrees of access to government and commercial services such as sanitation, water and power.

Mapping the Vernacular, participatory mapping program, Barrio Las Flores, Barranquilla, Colombia

While the discussion will be specific to the project in Las Flores, a principal goal of the symposium will be to collect perspectives from a variety of viewpoints regarding the applicability (and potential value) of the highlighted approach to other types of participatory community documentation projects.


Agenda TBA

(Seminar and Workshop)