Aerial view of a neighbourhood in Léon, Mexico.
Aerial view of a neighbourhood in Léon, Mexico

In León, the objective is to promote a transformation that allows for an orderly, compact, resilient and vibrant city while improving air quality. The vision: low motorized transport, blue-green infrastructure in public spaces, energy-efficient buildings and a circular, local economy, benefiting residents and generating a sense of community and identity.

León, Mexico

Located in central Mexico in the region known as “Bajío”, 384 km from the capital, León is the most populous city in Guanajuato state. The metropolitan area has 2.1 million residents, the seventh most populous in Mexico.

Google generated map of León

Since the 1940s, León's economy has revolved around the production of leather footwear and other leather goods – for which it is dubbed the “World Capital of Footwear.” Since the beginning of the twenty-first century, the industrial sector as well as agricultural, tourism and commercial services have also become major parts of the economy. Although not the political capital, León is considered the economic and social capital of Guanajuato and is among the ten municipalities with the highest contribution to Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product. 

The city has a temperate climate, considered sub-humid subtropical, experiencing rainy summers. León faces climate risks of extreme temperatures, including heat islands, draughts and fires, causing decreased water availability for domestic and agricultural use. Flooding, heavy rains and cyclones cause risks for the food production sector.

Context & Background

Urban Lab participants identified one central part of the city as an area that faces several challenges as well as opportunities to trigger urban transformation. Crossed by Adolfo López Mateos Boulevard, the city’s main avenue, the area was the first to have a BRT (Bus Rapid Transit) line in the whole of Mexico. However, the boulevard lacks safe walking and cycling lanes, although it connects some of León’s most vibrant areas. Examples are the Zona Piel (the leather district) and Distrito León, which includes the Explora Park, a science museum, the soccer stadium and facilities for the local fair as well as other public events.

The Urban Lab

In 2019, during the project’s inception phase, both municipal and state governments confirmed their political support for the project. 

An Urban Lab was established, providing a space for different stakeholders to collaborate on developing solutions for León’s complex urban challenges to be implemented through pilot projects. 

At the start of TUC, objectives were set to create a shared vision, define a work area and roll out these pilot projects. From May to December 2022, the laboratory organized six work sessions with an average participation of 40 people. Participants represented state and municipal authorities, civil society, academia and businesspersons. 

Consensus was reached to focus on one of the most emblematic and busy areas of the city, and an action plan has been agreed upon. The aim is to transform the area into an orderly, dense, resilient and vibrant area with mixed land uses. Via a participatory approach, stakeholders agreed that by 2030 this area should have low motorization levels and limited car use, blue-green infrastructure in public spaces, energy-efficient buildings and a circular and local economy for the benefit of the people who live, work and transit there, all to generate a sense of community and identity.

Who takes part in the Coalition

  • Cámara de Comercio México - E.U. Capítulo Guanajuato
  • Cámara Nacional de Comecio, Servicios y Turismo de León
  • Centro de Producción más Limpia del Bajío
  • Ciclismo Clásico
  • Colectivo URBE 
  • Dirección General de Desarrollo Urbano de León
  • Dirección General de Gestión Gubernamental
  • Dirección General de Medio Ambiente de León
  • Dirección General de Movilidad de León
  • Direción General de Economía de León
  • EKM Consultores
  • Escuela Nacional de Estudios Superiores de León
  • Fab City León
  • Fundación Rescate Arbóreo A.C. 
  • Gnosis XXI
  • Grupo 330
  • Instituto Municipal de Planeación de León
  • Mujeres en Bici
  • Observatorio Ciudadano de León
  • Primero León A.C. y MOCE Movimiento Ciudadano Ecologista
  • Secretaría de Medio Ambiente y Ordenamiento Territorial de Guanajuato
  • Sistema de Agua Potable y Alcantarillado de León
  • Sistema Integral de Aseo Público de León
  • Universidad de Guanajuato, Campus León
  • URBE Consultores

Urban Lab in Leon