Dezeen Magazine

Norman Foster Institute

Norman Foster launches academic institute to "improve the quality of life in cities"

British architect Norman Foster has launched the Norman Foster Institute, which will offer educational courses focused on the sustainable development of cities.

Launched by the Norman Foster Foundation today, the institute's first course will be a 36-week, full-time programme named Sustainable Cities.

"The future of our society is the future of our cities – they are our greatest invention," said Foster.

"This institute, in a time of climate change, is addressed to those who wish, through practice or education, to improve the quality of life in cities worldwide."

"The course is like an hourglass"

Based in Madrid, where the foundation has been located since it was created in 2017, the Norman Foster Institute's courses are aimed at "unconventional thinkers seeking a holistic approach to the future design and management of cities".

The first course will be focused on neighbourhoods in three "pilot cities" and combine classroom-based teaching with on-site experience with city planners and administrators.

"The course is like an hourglass; starting wide in its scope, then narrowing down to focus on tangible issues that can be quantified and addressed, and finally, opening up to a wider debate," explained Foster.

"In that spirit, the course will combine practical on-site experience with academic input from the foundation’s network of international experts. These range from university professors to property developers," he continued.

"It will start with tools and skills that can be used to address wide-ranging issues of cities. For instance, leadership, advocacy, communication, presentation, diagramming, mapping, and the understanding and interpretation of data."

Architects Alejandro Aravena and Diébédo Francis Kéré will oversee course

Alongside Foster, the course will be overseen by an academic council that includes architects Alejandro Aravena and Diébédo Francis Kéré, as well as Kent Larson, director of the City Science Research Group at MIT Media Lab, and Deborah Berke, dean of Yale University's school of architecture.

The Norman Foster Institute is currently seeking applications for the first course that begins in January 2024.

Founder of the UK's largest architecture studio, Foster + Partners, Foster is one of the world's best-known architects. A retrospective showcasing six decades of his work recently opened at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

It includes many of his key works such as the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Headquarters, Hong Kong International Airport and Apple Park.

The photography is by Pablo Gómez-Ogando, courtesy of Norman Foster Institute.