Winner of the 2023 RIBA Norman Foster Foundation Travelling Scholarship announced

August 9, 2023

The Norman Foster Foundation (NFF) and The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) are pleased to announce Martha Pomasonco of the University of Lima, Peru as the winner of the 2023 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship for her project ‘Upgraded Barrios’.

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. Martha intends to use the £7,000 travel scholarship to gather valuable first-hand information on the impact of neighborhood improvement projects in Latin America. Through direct observation and in-depth interviews, Martha’s work will evaluate and compare the impact of the different projects she visits. The research aims to provide lessons and strategies that can be applied to future interventions.

Martha will study the Favela-Bairro project. After that, she will travel to Rosario, Argentina, followed by the ‘Quiero mi Barrio’ project in Santiago, Chile, before returning to Lima. Given the exceptional standard of applications this year, the jury also commended Jan Dabrowski from ETH Zürich, Switzerland for their project ‘Atlas of Vanishing: Documenting West Africa’s Forgotten Architecture.’ 2023 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship recipient, Martha Pomasonco, said: ‘I am delighted and honoured to have been selected as the winner of the 2023 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship. I’d like to thank the University of Lima for nominating me, and the judging panel of the scholarship for selecting me. The scholarship will allow me to conduct research on my project ‘Upgraded Barrios’. It will let me gather valuable first-hand information on the impact of the most successful upgrading programmes in informal settlements promoted by Latin- American countries to find design lessons related to sustainability across time.’

NFF President Norman Foster said: ‘The jury was impressed by the high standard of entries for this year’s Travelling Scholarship. However, they were unanimous in their selection of Martha Pomasonco’s proposal, which was to gather valuable first-hand information on the impact of neighborhood improvement projects in Latin America. We offer our congratulations to Martha for her welldeserved win and look forward to when she will be able to share the results of such a worthy study.’

RIBA President Simon Allford said: ‘I was struck by Martha’s project to investigate the design and structure of large scale informal urban settlements in Latin America. I look forward to seeing what she learns of the relationship between the urban and architecture infrastructure and lives of the residents in these communities. I would also like to thank Lord Foster and the Foundation for their continued support that facilitates individual research projects such as this’.

This year’s scholarship attracted 60 applications, one of the highest application numbers since the scholarship was first awarded in 2007.

The judging panel was comprised of:

• Norman Foster, Lord Foster of Thames Bank (Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners; President, Norman Foster Foundation)

• Farshid Moussavi OBE RA (Founder, Farshid Moussavi Architecture; Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University; Trustee of the Norman Foster Foundation)

• Simon Allford (Founding Director at Allford Hall Monaghan Morris; RIBA President 2021-23)

• Chitra Marsh (Director at Buttress Architects; National Chair of Women in Property; RIBA Council member)

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:

  • 2022: Hana Sapherson – Royal College of Art, UK – ‘Zero: direct air capture infrastructure and the future of zero carbon societies’
  • 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’