EDUARDO LEIRA

Eduardo Leira is an old rocky architect-urbanist of Spain. As a student, in the Architecture School of Madrid (there was just one at the time) he was elected, in 1964, at the Stockholm Congress, General Secretary of the International Union of Students of Architecture. Two years later, being an antifranquist student leader, he was expulsed from the Madrid School and he had to finish his career in Barcelona (1968). There, he started to become, mainly, an urbanist-city planner. In 1970, even the Franco´s Supreme Court had to recognize the inappropriate expulsion.

Fulbright Fellow, he coursed his Masters in City and Regional Planning in the University of California, at Berkeley. He was admitted in MIT and Harvard as well. At the time, he chooses Berkeley. Back to Spain, leading the CETA team, he won three National Awards of Urbanism, one of them with the first General Plan of a city that was awarded. Two others were for the Participation Process of Urban Design Projects. He directed the General Plan of Madrid (1985) for the first democratic Municipal Council, leaded by the Mayor Tierno. The Plan was a landmark. It was awarded with another National Award of Urbanism. Afterwards, in 1987, Leira was awarded with the Abercombrie Urbanism Award of the International Union of Architects.

Back to the private professional exercise, he has been working all around the world. In the Madrid Plan a new planning instrument was introduced: “50 ideas”, quick projectual proposals, made by a large number of first level architects, for selected city enclaves. He repeated the experience in Buenos Aires (1986) and Santo Domingo (2002). His “Five Urban Axis” has been a lecture given in many different universities and institutions, comparing his proposals for Paris, Bilbao, Lisbon, Santiago de Chile and Sao Paolo. Lately, in 2008, a new axis extension was proposed for Buenos Aires. Bogota’s Annular Highway was also projected, but it was not specifically an axis.

 Remodeling steel industrial cities, as Bilbao or Aviles, in Spain, has been one of his major work topics. Also tourism, with the Calvia Plan, in Mallorca, or the Insular Plans of Canary Islands (Tenerife, Gran Canaria, El Hierro) Working at the water front was also approached in many different places such as the center of Almeria or the Ebro river, in Spain, a new water city in Saint Petersburg, Russia,   the city water front of Benguela, in Angola, or the Hainan Island, in China. There, in 2004, he deserved the Coconut Island Award for his enthusiastic contribution to building the country.

 Lately, he has been dedicated specially to design Large Urban Projects, with new centralities, in Spain (the new Almeria and León AVE station complexes or the urbanization of Zaragoza Station surroundings) and mainly outside: interface in Porto, new Manhattan type Center in Tianjin, China.

 He is, perhaps, the planner in Spain that has the largest experience in Territory (Regional) Planning, with the Bilbao Metropolitan Area, the Vitoria Flats Plan or the transnational Euro city Bayonne-San Sebastian, the Island Plans in the Canary Islands or the North “Sierra”, in Madrid.

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