RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship


The 2014 Judging Panel © Aaron Hargreaves, Foster + Partners

2014 RIBA Normal Foster Travelling Scholar announced

The 2014 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Joe Paxton of the Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London for his proposal, 'Buffer Landscapes 2060'.

Taking the threat of floods, droughts, melting glaciers and rising temperatures as a starting point, his research will investigate some of the measures taken to mitigate the effects of climate change, such as reservoirs, artificial lakes and rivers – and the opportunities that these landscapes offer for habitation, as well as flood protection. The £6,000 travel grant will allow him to study a range of locations, from Kamerik Polder in the Netherlands to Sao Paulo and Los Angeles, as well as investigating ‘glacier grafting’ in the Himalayas and large-scale flood planning in New York.

The jury was chaired by Lord Foster and comprised Stephen Hodder, RIBA President, Christine Murray, Editor of the Architects’ Journal, Edward Williams, architect and Spencer de Grey, Stefan Behling and Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners. Applications were received from 36 universities in 12 countries.

During the debate, the jury shortlisted four proposals which were considered worthy of special mention: a study into urban agriculture by Benard Acellam of Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda; an investigation of ‘ghost towns’ by Harry Kay of the Architectural Association in London; ‘The Graveyard Shift’, a spatial and cultural analysis of burial sites by Adam Swinburn of the University of Technology Sydney; and Damian Szyjka of Cracow University of Technology, for his proposal to explore the potential impact of drone technology on cities.

Lord Foster said:

"The high standard of entries led to a lively discussion around several of the proposals, however I congratulate Joe Paxton as the worthy winner. The locations that he plans to visit have been carefully researched and he approaches the issue of global warming and flood protection from an interesting perspective, in looking at the wider opportunities that these resourceful landscapes may present. I am delighted that the scholarship can support him in this valuable research."

RIBA President Stephen Hodder said:

"The RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship is a fantastic opportunity for students to engage with architecture within the global context. I warmly congratulate Joe Paxton who produced the winning project; this year's prize has been awarded to a very deserving proposal that engages with a fundamentally important global issue. I look forward to hearing about Joe’s travels and progress on this inspiring project which I hope will make a refreshing contribution to the essential debate on mitigating the effects of climate change."

Buffer Landscapes 2060
File size: 3797kB

To view entries from 2013 and 2014, please click on the links below:

2013 Online Exhibition


2014 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