The Bartlett School of Planning


Monica Lopez Franco

Research subject

Thesis title: Frameworks for Urban Conservation: Social Equality in Mexican Historic Centres of Mexico City and Guadalajara.

Primary supervisor: Dr Elisabete Cidre
Secondary supervisor: Dr Claudio de Magalhaes
Starting date: January 2016
Projected completion date: January 2020

Monica Lopez

Historic urban areas are under increasing pressure to address urban social challenges while also struggling to protect their cultural and historic environment. This is increasingly relevant in developing countries where rapid urbanisation and demographic trends fail to be met by more socially comprehensive urban conservation frameworks that ensure people’s well-being. Correspondingly, the development of national and local frameworks for urban conservation of historic cities in Mexico, developed under traditional conservation values, need to be assessed in relation to the wider urban context to achieve social justice.

Traditional approaches to historic areas have been promoted by UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites list and embedded in aesthetic and economic objectives that promote frameworks to attract investment. Few studies in the field convey the ways in which social justice and equality values are reflected and affected by urban conservation processes to enhance the well-being of local populations. There is still a clear gap between urban conservation values and frameworks to integrate social justice and equality values to inform local assessments for historic areas. Urban conservation frameworks must be addressed with respect to local cognitive understandings of internationally circulated knowledge and practices in order to foster beneficial spatial and social processes.

This research examines how urban conservation frameworks further social equality in historic areas within two Mexican cities: Mexico City and Guadalajara. As Mexico City holds World Heritage Site title and Guadalajara does not, it is argued urban conservation frameworks for each historic area manifest different approaches to integrate social equality values to address urban exclusion, displacement and segregation challenges. The research specifically aims to develop a new assessment approach to urban conservation in Mexican historic cities through a comparative study of the two cities, as they hold important influence at local, national and pan-Latin American levels.

Publications and other work

Published Works

  • Co-editor of ‘’Taking Planning Forward Second Edition. PhD Research Projects at the Bartlett School of Planning 2016/17’’. UCL Bartlett School of Planning.


  • UCL (2017) Lopez Franco, M. ‘’Urban conservation and social equality: Frameworks for historic areas in Mexican Cities’’ in ‘’Taking Planning Forward Second Edition. PhD Research Projects at the Bartlett School of Planning 2016/17’’. UCL Bartlett School of Planning. Pp.33-34. London.


  • Marie Jahoda DiverCities Summer School 2016 Workshop by the project DiverCities - Governing Urban Diversity financed by the European Commission, in the Department of Sociology of the University of Vienna

Academic Experience

  • PGTA in ENVS1017 Urban Lab I: Graphic Skills Module I with Dr. Elisabete Cidre in 2016