RIBA Norman Foster Scholarship

RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship

2014 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship Launched

2014 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship

The 2014 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship Poster. Click to enlarge.

The RIBA is inviting applications from architecture students at RIBA/CAA-validated schools around the world for the 2014 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship. A £6,000 grant will be awarded to one student to fund international research on a topic related to the survival of towns or cities.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 25 April 2014 . Entries will be judged by a panel which includes Lord Foster and RIBA President, Stephen Hodder.

Eligible students must:

  • be enrolled in an RIBA or CAA validated degree programme or in a programme from a specially invited school or architecture centre AND
  • have successfully completed at least the first year of a Part 1 degree.

Each school can only submit one application produced by one student.

Please download the guidance notes and application form below:



To view entries from 2013, please visit the 2013 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship Entries Online Exhibition .

About the scholarship

The RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been running since 2007. 

The spirit of the scholarship is based on Lord Foster's own experience as a student of architecture: 

'As a student I won a prize that allowed me to spend a summer travelling through Europe to study first hand buildings and cities that I knew only from the pages of books. It was a revelation - liberating and exhilarating in so many ways. Today it is my privilege to fund the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship, which I hope will have a lasting legacy - offering the chance for discovery and the inspiration for exciting new work - for generations to come.'

Thanks to the generosity and support of Lord Foster and Foster + Partners, the scholarship has supported seven students seeking the same inspiration. You can read about their travel experiences below.

2013: Charles Booth Going Abroad

2012: Material Economies: recycling practices in informal settlements along African longitude 30ºE

2011: Sanitation: a case study across eight metropolises

2010: In search of cold spaces

2009: Ancestral cities, ancestral sustainability

2008: Role of public transport in shaping sustainable humane habitats

2007: East: exploring and experiencing the East Asian Communist city

  Sigita Burbulyte, Bath School of Architecture, Charles Booth Going Abroad

Sigita was granted £6,000 to develop her research study, which takes the poverty maps of Victorian social reformer Charles Booth as the starting point for an exploration of slum communities across four continents.

Lord Foster said:

'Once again, the jury was impressed by the quality of all the entries. However, we were unanimous in choosing Sigita Burbulyte's highly original approach to urban analysis, which learns from the past and recognises the importance of infrastructure, in physically shaping a community. Perhaps, most interestingly, the mapping of the relationship between slum areas and their wider urban context is a move toward defining and transforming these informal settlements. She has set herself an ambitious task, which I expect will absorb her in years to com - I am delighted that the scholarship can support her as she embarks on this fascinating journey.'

The jury also highly commended 'Room for Improvement' by Tom Haworth of the University of Cambridge - a critical analysis of global approaches to flood protection and land reclamation, with implications for the Cambridge area.

Thomas Aquilina, Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Material Economies

Thomas Aquilina won the 2012 scholarship for his proposal 'Material Economies: recycling practices in informal settlements along African longitude 30ºE', addressing recycling in informal African settlements. Lord Foster, chair of the judges, praised the proposal its 'sympathetic awareness of the social issues within self-built communities'. Describing his approach to the scholarship brief, Thomas said 'rather than looking at the informal settlement as a problem, I want to look at it as an inspiration; that its very informality can achieve efficient and entrepreneurial practices of recycling. This project aims to explore and learn from the material economies of the African city.'

Thomas travelled for 12 weeks visiting six cities: Cairo, Khartoum, Kampala, Kigali, Lusaka and Johannesburg. You can read his full proposal below.

Thomas will document his journey and work with  Mwelu Foundation . He presented his research at Foster + Partners and at the RIBA last year.

The jury also highly commended two further submissions: ‘America’s Survival from Suicide’ by Green Vangogh of Bath University – a proposal to study urban development in 12 cities across the USA; and a study by John Killock of the University of Westminster, London, which explores the potential for co-housing to accommodate ageing populations in India and China.

Sahil Deshpande, Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai: Sanitation

Sahil Bipin Deshpande from Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai, was awarded the 2011 scholarship for his project 'Sanitation: a case study across eight metropolises'. Sahil travelled to Delhi, Shanghai, Beijing, Oslo, Paris, Belfast, Kumasi and Johannesburg between July and September 2011. He now plans to develop a sustainable manifesto for sanitation with applications for Mumbai. 

Sahil came to London in December 2011 to present his research findings to an audience at Foster + Partners. Sahil talked about the motivations for his research, the lessons he took from the different countries and his plans to practically apply the international research to the case study of Mumbai. You can watch his presentation and download his written report below.

Sahil has subsequently been offered a research fellowship at the KRVIA, Mumbai, and is further developing the research he started through the scholarship. 


The jury also highly commended a proposal by Stuart Taylor of Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand: 'Post-Earthquake Reconstruction in the Pacific Rim'.

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Andrew Mackintosh, Scott Sutherland School of Architecture, Aberdeen: In search of cold spaces

Andrew Mackintosh from the Scott Sutherland School of Architecture at the Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen, was awarded the scholarship in 2010 for his proposal 'In search of cold spaces'. Andrew's proposal took him through Scandinavia, Russia, Canada, Greenland and Iceland.


Bergen, Norway
Image copyright Andrew Mackitosh

'The award made it possible for me to fulfil my research in travelling around these cities on the periphery with the north while also paying pilgrimage to some of my favourite architects from around the world.

This has allowed me to develop my studies in a rather more intuitive way, which can only be achieved through visiting cities, buildings and people. However, like any good experience this has in turn raised more questions than answers to understanding not only the northern condition, but expanding more in personal architectural ideas, fantasies and moments.

A year on, and I am still nomadic. Making the most of what I learnt while travelling on the scholarship, the enormous benefit in cataloguing and reflecting on as many different experiences and circumstances as possible.

I am currently based in Switzerland and Italy and have been working in a few architecture practices while learning German and Italian. I am hoping to continue my studies in Switzerland in the near future.'

Andrew Mackintosh, October 2011

The jury commended two further proposals in 2010: Hugh Magee from the University of Ulster 'Case studies in 8 cities across the world on squatter communities', and Stefan Joksic from the University of Technology, Sydney 'The nuclear-urban condition'.

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Amanda Rivera, Universidad del Bio Bio, Chile: Ancestral cities, ancestral sustainability

Amanda Rivera from the Universidad del Bio Bio, Chile, was awarded the 2009 scholarship for her project 'Ancestral cities, ancestral sustainability'. 


Foster Presentation 2009

Amanda presenting the outcome of her research at Foster + Partners in December 2009

'My journey was a (re)search for a reinterpretation of our culture, recognising the roots of the world, on a journey to learn from ancient culture to build a sustainable future. 

Ancestral cultures are a part of the earth. All their cultural manifestations are also a part of nature. Architecture and urbanism happen in nature and are part of the landscape. This is where ancestral buildings stand: with the soil, with the water, with the earth.

We must learn the main concepts to be able to improve them and move on from our past. As architects we have skills, abilities and we have duties. We have the skill of shaping spaces for humanity and we have the duty to build better cities and buildings.'


Amanda Rivera writing in the RIBA Education Yearbook 2010

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Faizan Siddiqi, Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai: Role of public transport in shaping sustainable humane habitats

Faizan Jawed Siddiqi from the Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai, was awarded the scholarship in 2008 for his proposal: 'Role of public transport in shaping sustainable humane habitats: case studies across three continents'.


Foster Scholarship Faizan

Bikers near the bikeway junction, New Delhi, India.
Image courtesy of Faizan Siddiqi

'As a student and a (thinking) citizen of my country, I have been very concerned regarding changes happening in Indian cities, post-economic reforms, and the effects of them. Due to increased use of the car, lack of urban planning (and implementation of plans), pro-car social mindsets and archaic public transport, there has been increased congestion in large Indian cities. It is near fatal to bicycle in the Indian metro cities and there are disappearing sidewalks; all signaling the demise of a culture of movement that is most natural and most sustainable, and the rise of unsustainable, heavy-on-resources methods.

Alarmed by these signs, I felt the need to learn from other cities to understand appropriate solutions. Between June and October 2008 the scholarship allowed me to travel around the world studying the 'Role of public transport and carbon neutral mobility in shaping sustainable humane habitats'. I visited Finland, Denmark, Holland, Germany, the UK, Spain, Colombia, Brazil, Chile, the US, Hong Kong and India. I spent about ten days per country and studied up to three cities in each.'

Faizan Siddiqi writing in the RIBA Education Yearbook 2009

The film titled 'Just Wheels', which Faizan shot while travelling was nominated for the CMS Vatavaran 2009 Film Festival under the Climate Change and Sustainable Technologies category. A total of 73 films were nominated from the 276 works that entered the Indian films category.

More information about the nomitaion can be found on the  5th CMS Vatavaran Environment & Wildlife Film Festival .

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Ben Masterton-Smith, Bartlett School of Architecture, London: Emerging East

Ben Masterton-Smith from the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, was the first winner of the scholarship in 2007 for his project: 'Emerging East: Exploring and experiencing the East Asian Communist city'.  


ben Masterton-Smith

Mansudae Grand Monument, Statue of the Great Leader, Kim Il Sung, Pyongyang
Image courtesy Ben Masterton-Smith 

'My proposal for this scholarship was to explore the development and future of the Communist City in Asia, examining cities that have evolved from the particular ideological principles of Communist regimes and have been characterised by rapid growth. I chose to visit a range of cities in North Korea (D.P.R.K.), China and Vietnam that represent different urban conditions that have developed from a similar political situation.

I travelled in the summer between my two years of Diploma, and the experience had an immediate impact on my work. When I returned to university, I changed units in order to explore many of the themes that were raised by the scholarship trip. In my subsequent university project I looked at a parallel version of North Korea (D.P.R.K.) through the lens of a fictional city under state control. The work also informed my thesis, which explored the idea of rewritten histories, and was awarded the Dean's List for Commendation in Thesis.

For me one of the benefits of the scholarship wasn't just that it took me to some extraordinary locations, but that I was able to share my experiences with others, which I think is certainly part of the spirit of the award.

I graduated with my Part 2 at the beginning of the recession and had a difficult time finding a job. To keep myself busy I set up a city guide for the iPhone with a friend of mine, and we have so far successfully launched Hong Kong and Beijing, and are currently working on Shanghai. I hope eventually to work in China, and have returned numerous times since the trip, mainly for research for the travel guides, and to feed my continuing fascination with the area.

I currently work at Michaelis Boyd Associates running a variety of residential and restaurant projects, and am in the final stages of getting my Part 3.'

Ben Masterton-Smith, October 2011

For more information about Ben's company and the ' city chaperones' visit his website www.node72.net .

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