The Norman Foster Foundation opened its headquarters on June 1, establishing a world-class archive and inaugurating an international programme of research, education and interdisciplinary projects.
To mark the inauguration, the Foundation presented the day-long global forum Future is Now, bringing together leading design practitioners, policy makers, scholars, and artists. The Forum addressed tomorrow’s foreseeable social, economic, and design challenges and how they are affecting our interactions today with the built environment.
Norman Foster Foundation
Monte Esquinza, 48
28010 Madrid, Spain
Open to the public only by appointment
Norman Foster and the Trustees also announced the appointment of the inaugural Director, architectural historian and curator Maria Nicanor, who joins the Foundation from London´s V&A Museum and New York´s Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum.
THE FOUNDATION’S HEADQUARTERS
The Foundation will work globally from a former residential palace on Madrid’s Calle Monte Esquinza, which houses its Archive, Library, and study spaces. The Norman Foster studio within the Foundation has designed and realized the Pavilion, a new one-story structure in the Foundation´s courtyard. Contrasting with the historical building, the Pavilion uses a laminated glass wall structure to support a glass fiber roof to create a floating structure with no visible means of support.
Artist Cristina Iglesias has designed a canopy to cover part of the entrance courtyard, which also provides shade for the façade. The Pavilion will be used for the Foundation’s programmes and events and will also house a collection of objects and visual material that has inspired Norman Foster throughout his career.
BACKGROUND AND MISSION OF THE FOUNDATION
The Norman Foster Foundation promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations of architects, designers, and urbanists anticipate the future. The Foundation believes in the importance of connecting architecture, design, technology, and the arts to better serve society, and is committed to the value of a holistic education that encourages experimentation through research and projects. Since 1999, the Norman Foster Foundation in London has provided yearly travelling fellowships through London´s Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) to encourage architecture students and scholars to travel anywhere in the world to pursue research about the future of cities.
At the Foundation’s core is its Archive, a world-class facility established in 2015 and now available to scholars for the first time, which constitutes the primary source of information on the life, work, and ideas of Norman Foster and the practices he has led. The Archive´s holdings span from the 1950s to the present, with more than 74,000 items inventoried to date. Materials including drawings, models, photographs, sketchbooks, and memorabilia continue to be added on an ongoing basis. The Archive´s database is openly available online through the Norman Foster Foundation’s website.
The Foundation’s first built project was the Droneport, which was unveiled at the Venice Architecture Biennale 2016 and which is on permanent view at Venice’s Arsenale since March 2017. The Droneport is a new building type that can be constructed by local communities in Africa as a civic and social hub, landing site for drones, and center for drone manufacture.
Development of a network of Droneports would allow for the delivery of medical supplies and other necessities to areas that are difficult to access because of a lack of transport infrastructure. The decision to establish the Foundation as an independent entity, separate from the architectural practice of Foster + Partners, grew out of the perceived need for a permanent physical space that could house the Archive and study center, receive students and graduates, and present programmes and projects.
Starting in June 2017 and coinciding with its launch in Madrid, the Foundation will announce a series of educational and research initiatives, projects, and publications forged in collaboration with likeminded institutions around the world.
To date, the Foundation has collaborated with institutions including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge (MIT), the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETH), the École Polytechnique Fédérale in Lausanne (EPFL), the Polytechnic University in Madrid, and the University of Cambridge and Bournemouth University in the UK.
FUTURE IS NOW
The inaugural forum of the Norman Foster Foundation, Future is Now, was held in three sessions dedicated to cities, technology and design, and infrastructure. Each session featured a keynote address, an interview, and a moderated panel discussion in English and was streamed at www.normanfosterfoundation.org.
The first session, “Cities,” had a keynote by Norman Foster. The panel discussion featured Michael Bloomberg; architect and artist Maya Lin; Richard Burdett, Professor of Urban Studies at the London School of Economics; and Norman Foster.
The second session, “Technology and Design,” had a keynote by Matthias Kohler, Professor of Architecture and Digital Fabrication at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The panel discussion featured Niall Ferguson, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution; Nicholas Negroponte, Co-Founder of the MIT Media Lab; designer Marc Newson, Professor of Design at Sydney College of the Arts; architect and designer Neri Oxman, founder and Director of the Mediated Matter Group at MIT Media Lab; and designer and architect Patricia Urquiola, founder of Studio Urquiola.
The third session, “Infrastructure,” had a keynote address by Alejandro Aravena, Executive Director of Elemental. The panel discussion featured Luis Fernández-Galiano, Professor at ETSAM and Director of AV/Arquitectura Viva; Jonathan Ledgard, Director of Rossums Group, founder of Redline and former Director for Afrotech of the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne; Mariana Mazzucato, Director of the University College London Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose; Henk Ovink; and Janette Sadik-Khan, Principal for Transportation at Bloomberg Associates.
Following the third session, the forum presented a public conversation between artists Olafur Eliasson and Cornelia Parker, before ending with concluding remarks by Norman Foster.