The Norman Foster Institute, an initiative of the Norman Foster Foundation, recently announced its Program on Sustainable Cities in Madrid. This is a master’s degree that combines practical on-site experience with academic input from the foundation’s network of international experts from the University of Madrid.
In the words of Norman Foster, “The future of our society is the future of our cities – they are our greatest invention.”
The first part of the course provides cross-disciplinary tools and skills for addressing issues related to the development of global cities, informal settlements, and suburban areas. Following this broad-based approach, students will use the most advanced digital tools to evaluate the impacts of their proposed interventions to improve the quality of urban life. The course also aims to develop skills in leadership, communication, and interpreting data.
The one-year course will focus on three cities: Athens, San Marino, and Bilbao. Upon completion, the results of the students’ work will be presented to the administration of each. Although these are all European cities, the underlying approach is equally applicable to cities, informal settlements, and suburban areas around the world. In fact, given the multiple influences that affect urban transformation projects, it will be essential for students to evaluate the impact of their work on a global scale.
The Norman Foster Institute Sustainable Cities Program aims to train experts in different disciplines to develop sustainable development strategies for the cities of the future. Besides using advanced simulation tools and centering on community engagement, the fieldwork component will focus on integrating Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) into local action plans.
The Norman Foster Institute has assembled an international team of professionals to give students a global view and provide a broad range of skills to develop a holistic approach to the design and management of cities. Program directors Norman Foster, president of the Norman Foster Foundation, and Kent Larson, head of the City Science group at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, will lead the team.
The program was announced on January 22 in Madrid as part of a busy day of talks chaired by Tim Stonor, member of the Norman Foster Foundation’s advisory committee. Among others, the speakers included Norman Foster and Kent Larson, as well as representatives from the three participating cities: Georgios Stamtsis, President of the Athens Development and Destination Management Agency; Eider Inunciaga Serna, from the Department for Euskera, Public Services, Civic Engagement, Agenda 2030 and Internationalization, Bilbao, Spain; and Stefano Canti, Minister for Territory, Environment, Agriculture and Civil Protection, San Marino.
The event closed with a series of public talks entitled “Cities beyond Earth”, which looked at the extraordinary overlap between space colonies and cities on Earth, and the unprecedented challenge of today to create more resilient, more sustainable urban environments. Answers to this challenge may just lie in the study of space colonies as a source of vital information on efficient resource management, closed-loop ecosystems, and usable technologies.
All images courtesy Norman Foster Foundation