Norman Foster Foundation Workshop 2023 – Sustainability

The Norman Foster Foundation's third edition of its Sustainability Workshop took place from 13-17 November 2023 in Madrid, Spain with the support of the Rolex.

In the Anthropocene, as we face escalating climate change, catastrophic biodiversity loss and human suffering, the need to reimagine our cities has never been more urgent. As cities grapple with cascading socio-ecological challenges and burgeoning, more vulnerable populations, architects, landscape designers and urban planners play a pivotal role in shaping resilient and sustainable urban landscapes. The 2023 Sustainability Workshop aimed to empower students with innovative ideas and practical solutions to create cities that can balance human needs within the natural world.

Through seminars, insightful discussions and hands-on design exercises, we explored cutting-edge strategies encompassing (for example) renewable energy, green infrastructure, nature-based solutions, rewilding, carbon neutrality and drawdown, waste elimination, circular economies, sustainable transportation, social equity and community engagement.

A five-day event led by Nina-Marie Lister, Professor at the School of Urban and Regional Planning Director at the Ecological Design Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University, the workshop included lectures and open discussions focusing upon environmental design, urban self-sufficiency and building-integrated nature.


The Workshop’s Academic Body brought together a wide range of practitioners from different fields related to sustainability. The Academic Body included Mario Cucinella, Founder and President, Mario Cucinella Architects, Bologna, Italy; Julia Czerniak, Dean, School of Architecture and Planning, University at Buffalo, Buffalo, NY, United States; Lubomila Jordanova, CEO and Founder, Plan A; Co-Founder, Greentech Alliance, Berlin, Germany; Simon Kretz, Founder and Partner, Salewski Nater Kretz, Zurich, Switzerland; Maya Lin, Director, Maya Lin Studio, New York, NY, United States; Nina-Marie Lister, Professor and Director, Ecological Design Lab, Toronto Metropolitan University; Founding Principal, PLANDFORM, Toronto, Canada; Peter Vangsbo, Associate Director for Climate and Sustainable Service, Arup, Hovedstaden, Denmark; Mathis Wackernagel, Co-Founder and President, Global Footprint Network, Oakland, CA, United States; and Ken Yeang, Plym Distinguished Professorship, Illinois University, Champaign, IL, United States; Executive Director, Hamzah & Yeang, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

After reviewing hundreds of applications submitted by candidates from around the world, the selection committee awarded ten scholarships to students from the following universities and institutions; Confluence Institute for Creative Strategies and Innovation in Architecture, Paris, France; University of St Andrews, St Andrews, Scotland; Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, New York, NY, United States; Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi, India; Centre of Alternative Technology, Wales, United Kingdom; Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London (UCL), London, United Kingdom; Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Boston, MA, United States; Unversity of Cape Town (UCT), Cape Town, South Africa; Graduate School of Design (GSD), Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States; Università luav di Venezia, Venice, Italy.