Winner of the 2021 RIBA Norman Foster Foundation Travelling Scholarship announced

July 15, 2021

The 2021 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Weronika Zdziarska, from the Politecnico di Milano, Italy, for her project ‘Don’t Stay Out Alone: addressing women’s perception of safety and freedom in cities by design’.

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

Zdziarska’s project will evaluate previous interventions carried out by international, regional and local organisations in South America, to improve the safety of women in cities. Five cities have been selected for evaluation, each representing different attitudes and responses to this area of research: Medellín, Colombia; Quito, Ecuador; Santiago, Chile; Montevideo, Uruguay and Curitiba, Brazil.

The proposal seeks to demonstrate the relationships between gender inequality and design, and to outline best practices for building more inclusive cities.

The judging panel also commended ‘Biofuel Producing Technology; Algae: An Alternative Energy Source’ by Basant Abdelrahman from the American University in Dubai, UAE.

The 2021 scholarship jury comprised of:

  • Norman Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank (Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners; President, Norman Foster Foundation)
  • Elena Ochoa, Lady Foster of Thames Bank (Publisher and curator; Vice-President, Norman Foster Foundation)
  • Professor Ricky Burdett (Professor of Urban Studies, and director of LSE Cities and the Urban Age Programme; Trustee, Norman Foster Foundation)
  • Sofie Pelsmakers (Assistant Professor Sustainable Architecture and Sustainable Housing Design, Tampere University; Co-founder & Director, Architecture for Change (AfC))
  • Professor Alan Jones (President, RIBA)

Lord Foster said:
‘The Jury was unanimous in its selection of Weronika Zdziarska’s submission as the winner. Her methodology was impressive, and her project was beautifully presented. Her decision to explore issues of gender in the public spaces of just Latin America demonstrated a sophistication in her early research which differentiated her work from that of her worthy fellow applicants’.

RIBA President Alan Jones said:
‘Zdziarska’s proposal was very well structured and presented, with her focus on exploring and learning from South American urban environments that have improved inclusion and safety and increased gender equality in design. As a judging panel we were inspired by her initial research and pertinence of the proposal, and her drive to investigate and address these issues on an international scale. Congratulations on this winning project – I look forward to seeing the findings of this important research’.

The RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship, supported by the Norman Foster Foundation, is now in its fifteenth year and is intended to fund international research on a topic related to the sustainable 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, and Russia. This year, in response to global travel restrictions, students could alternatively submit a proposal to research a topic in their home country.

Past recipients of the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship:

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’