Norman Foster Foundation Workshop 2018— On Cities

June 2018

The Norman Foster Foundation On Cities Workshop took place on 18-22 June 2018, supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies, closing the 2017-2018 Educational programme initiative. The workshop focused on Autonomous Innovative Communities, selecting a district in Madrid as a case-study for a research project that was developed throughout the week.

Can each community locally produce all of the energy, food, and clean water needed for basic living—requiring no centralised infrastructure? Can humans transition from ownership to sharing, while living and working in compact, agile, supportive environments? This workshop explored the premise that emerging urban innovations can dramatically reduce resources consumed by cities while simultaneously creating more livable, entrepreneurial communities.

‘We are living in an era of extreme urbanisation and rapid global warming’, stated workshop mentor Kent Larson. ‘The challenges of both call for more than mere incremental adjustments.’

After reviewing applications submitted by hundreds of candidates from around the world, the selection committee awarded nine scholarships to students from the following universities and institutions: American University of Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Harvard Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, United States; London School of Economics and Political Science, London, United Kingdom; Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, Santiago de Chile, Chile; Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts, Copenhagen, Denmark; Technische Universiteit Delft, Delft, the Netherlands; Tongji University, Shanghai, China; Tsinghua University, Beijing, China and Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña, Barcelona, Spain.

These scholars engaged with a group of specialists through a series of seminars and lectures culminating in a five day workshop led by the Atelier mentor, Kent Larson, Director of MIT Media Lab City Science Group and Initiative, and his team.

The Academic Body spanned a wide range of practitioners working in different fields interrelated with the City, including: Beatriz Colomina, Director of Graduate Studies, School of Architecture, Princeton University, Princeton, United States; Luis Cueto, General Coordinator for the Mayor in Madrid, Madrid City Hall, Madrid, Spain; Anupama Kundoo, Principal, Anupama Kundoo Architects, Madrid, Spain/Auroville, India; Winy Maas, Co-Founder and Director of MVRDV and Director of the Why Factory, Delft, the Netherlands; Tim Stonor, Managing Director of Space Syntax, London, United Kingdom; Leonor Tarrasón, Director of Environmental Solutions, Norwegian Institute for Air Research, Oslo, Norway; Belinda Tato and José Luis Vallejo, Founders and Directors of Ecosistema Urbano, Madrid, Spain/Miami, United States.

The On Cities Workshop included seminars, lectures, one-to-one tutoring and urban architectural tours to learn more about the context of Madrid and it’s districts. During the course of the workshops, participants had the opportunity to engage with the Norman Foster Foundation’s archive and research projects.

Nicholas Negroponte, Co-Founder and former Director of MIT Media Lab, Cambridge, United States acted as the Chief Advisor of the workshop tutoring the students through the research process.

As a way to disseminate knowledge and ideas, the public lectures were recorded and documented for publication in series of annual books published by the Norman Foster Foundation.