Norman Foster Foundation’s New HQ: Nine Things You Need to Know

The Norman Foster Foundation is to open its headquarters in Madrid in June 2017, establishing a world-class archive and inaugurating an international programme of research, education and interdisciplinary projects in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism.

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.

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.

Here’s nine things you need to know about this exciting new development in the life of this extraordinary organisation.

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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 centre, receive students and graduates, and present programmes and projects.

4) 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.

5) To mark the inauguration of the new HQ, the Foundation will present the day-long global forum Future is Now, bringing together leading design practitioners, policy makers, scholars, and artists. The Forum will address tomorrow’s foreseeable social, economic, and design challenges and how they are affecting our interactions today with the built environment.

6) 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.

7) Norman Foster and the Trustees have 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.

8) 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.

9) The inaugural forum of the Norman Foster Foundation, Future is Now, will be held in three sessions dedicated to cities, technology and design, and infrastructure. Each session will feature a keynote address, an interview, and a moderated panel discussion in English and will be live streamed at www.normanfosterfoundation.org

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