Winner of the 2022 RIBA Norman Foster Foundation Travelling Scholarship announced

August 3, 2022

The 2022 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Hana Sapherson, from the MA Architecture student from the Royal College of Art, UK, for her project ‘Zero: direct air capture infrastructure and the future of zero carbon societies.’

The annual scholarship offers £7,000 to fund research by an architecture student who demonstrates original thinking on issues relating to the sustainable survival of cities and towns.

Hana’s project will trace a two-month net-zero carbon journey by boat and train across the world to capture a situated snapshot of the international energy transition and ambition to reach net-zero by 2050. Hana will primarily focus on Direct Air Capture sites – proposed and in development – to scale carbon dioxide removal for the largest companies and economies across the world and their impact on society. Sites will include Drax Power Station, Yorkshire, UK, Carbfix / Climeworks, Hellisheidi, Iceland, Carbon Removal, Øygarden, Norway, and six further sites in Switzerland, Canada, the USA, and the UK. 

Given the exceptional standard of applications this year, the judging panel wanted to commend Antoinette Yetunde Oni from Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, UK for her project ‘The Honourable Harvest’: an investigation of urban food systems and innovative land-use practices in Sahelian and coastal West African cities.

The final shortlist comprised: 

  • Sacha Moreau, Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT, USA – ‘Disastrous Opportunities’
  • Noémie St-Laurent, Université Laval, Canada – ‘Service Stations: How architecture can contribute to the transition towards the electrification of transportation networks and thus climate crisis’
  • Nandini Goel, Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow School of Art, UK – ‘Designing for informality in an urbanising world’

The judging panel comprised: 

  • Norman Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank (Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners; President, Norman Foster Foundation) 
  • Simon Allford (Founding Director at Allford Hall Monaghan Morris; RIBA President (2021-23))
  • Paola Foster (Trustee, Norman Foster Foundation)
  • Iain Macdonald (Professor, Instance of Uncertain Spaces, ArtEZ University of the Arts)
  • Naomi Rubbra (Director of Operations, Footwork; Member of the RIBA Education Development Group)

Lord Foster said:

‘The jury were impressed by the high standard of entries for this year’s Travelling Scholarship. However, they were unanimous in their selection of Hana Sapherson’s proposal, which was a clear, lucid advocacy for her research into Direct Air capture of carbon dioxide from sites across Europe and North America. We offer our congratulations to Hana for her well-deserved success and look forward to when she will be able to share the results of such a worthy study.

The jury is often faced with other outstanding applications and in that category they wished to commend Antoinette Yetunde Oni for her proposal to study urban food systems in Sahelian and Coastal West African cities titled ‘The Honourable Harvest’.

RIBA President Simon Allford said:

‘I was seriously impressed by Hana’s ambition to undertake both critical research into a complex and vital low carbon energy project, and to build in the time to construct a low carbon travel plan; time she can use to reflect on her discoveries. The success of Direct Air Capture sites could have a huge effect on our shared ambition to reach net zero – so we can all learn from Hana’s research. I congratulate Hana, along with our other finalists, for their inspiring proposals which I am sure they will continue to pursue. I also thank Lord Foster and the Foundation for their continued support to facilitate research projects like this.’

First established in 2006, the scholarship, supported by the Norman Foster Foundation, is now in its sixteenth year and is intended to fund international research on a topic related to the survival of our towns and cities, in a location of the student’s choice. Past RIBA Norman Foster Scholars have travelled through the Americas, Europe, Africa, South East Asia, the Middle and the Far East.

Past recipients of the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship:

  • 2021: Weronika Zdziarska – Politecnico di Milano, Italy – ‘Don’t Stay Out Alone: addressing women’s perception of safety and freedom in cities by design’
  • 2020: Iulia Cistelecan – London School of Architecture, UK – ‘Life Between Shelters: Refugee camps of today becoming cities of tomorrow’
  • 2019: Siti Nurafaf Ismail – University of Malaya, Malaysia – ‘Architecture of Humility’
  • 2018: Steven Hutt – University of Greenwich, UK – ‘East of Eden’
  • 2017: Chloe Loader – University of Lincoln, UK – ‘Emerging Cities: Sustainable Master-Planning in the Global South’
  • 2016: Abel Feleke – University of Western Australia – ‘Weaving the Urban Fabric: Examining the Significance of Community’
  • 2015: Charles Palmer – University of Sheffield, UK – ‘Cycling Megacities’
  • 2014: Joe Paxton – Bartlett (UCL), UK – ‘Buffer Landscapes 2060’
  • 2013: Sigita Burbulyte – Bath University, UK – ‘Charles Booth Going Abroad’
  • 2012: Thomas Aquilina – University of Edinburgh – ‘Material Economies: Recycling Practices in Informal Settlements Along African Longitude 30’
  • 2011: Sahil Bipin Deshpande – Rizvi College of Architecture, India – ‘Sanitation: A Case Study across Eight Metropolises’
  • 2010: Andrew Mackintosh – Robert Gordon University, UK – ‘In Search of Cold Spaces’
  • 2009: Amanda Rivera – University of Bio Bio, Chile – ‘Ancestral Cities, Ancestral Sustainability’
  • 2008: Faizan Jawed Siddiqi – Rizvi College of Architecture, India – ‘The Role of Public Transport in Shaping Sustainable Humane Habitats’
  • 2007: Ben Masterton-Smith – Bartlett (UCL), UK – ‘Emerging East: Exploring and Experiencing the East Asian Communist City’