RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship


The 2015 Judging Panel © Aaron Hargreaves, Foster + Partners

2015 RIBA NormaN Foster Travelling Scholar announced

The 2015 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Charles Palmer of Sheffield University School of Architecture for his proposal, ‘Cycling Megacities’.

The study will take Charles to megacities in four developing countries – Mexico City, Mexico; Lagos, Nigeria; Dhaka, Bangladesh and Shenzhen, China, each of which presents different challenges to bicycle advocacy and urban design. He will explore how policies, investments and campaigns are transforming urban public space in a bid to make the bicycle a transportation option for all social classes.

The jury was chaired by Lord Foster and comprised Stephen Hodder, then-RIBA President, Lady Hopkins, Founding Partner of Hopkins Architects, Peter Oborn, RIBA Vice President International and Spencer de Grey, Roger Ridsdill Smith and Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners.

During the debate, the jury also highly commended ‘Extreme Environments’ by Teodora Todorova of the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia. Teodora will receive a camera as a prize for her proposal to study some of the world’s driest, wettest and coldest regions.

The winning proposals can be downloaded below:



Lord Foster said:

“Once again, the high standard of scholarship entries led to a lively and enjoyable debate. I congratulate Charles Palmer on this result – the jury felt this was an important subject, with an interesting focus on these rapidly expanding cities, and we were interested in the potential lessons that this research could offer for UK policy. Any planning initiatives will fail if we don’t address the social drivers behind people’s transport choices, therefore his proposal to examine the changing status of the bicycle in these different cities is particularly worthwhile.” 

Past RIBA President Stephen Hodder said:

“I am delighted that the 2015 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship award will help explore the influence of cycling and its impact on the shaping of urban public space across the world. As a keen cyclist, I am conscious that it is an issue which is not being dealt with as well as it should be in the UK, and was pleased to see that the intention of this research is to inform the debate and guide UK policy. I look forward to reading Charles’ findings in due course, which, thanks to the generosity of Foster + Partners, will no doubt build on the work being conducted by the RIBA on healthy cities.”

For more information, please contact Hayley Russell on hayley.russell@riba.org.

To view entries from 2013, 2014 and 2015, 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.

2014: Buffer Landscapes 2060

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