The 2012 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Thomas Aquilina of Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, part of the University of Edinburgh. He will be granted £6,000 to develop his proposal, "Material Economies: recycling practices in informal settlements along African longitude 30ºE," which takes the scholarship's theme of resources and addresses recycling in informal African settlements.
"Rather than looking at the informal settlement as a problem, I want to look at it as an inspiration; that its very informality can achieve efficient and entrepreneurial practices of recycling," said Thomas Aquilina. "This project aims to explore and learn from the material economies of the African city. My motivation stems from working for the UN agency UN-HABITAT at its headquarters in Nairobi during my placement year."
The jury was chaired by Lord Foster and included Angela Brady, President of the RIBA, Professor Ricky Burdett of the London School of Economics, Sarah Ichioka, Director of the Architecture Foundation and Mouzhan Majidi, Spencer de Grey and Stefan Behling of Foster + Partners.
The jury also highly commended two further submissions: "America's Survival from Suicide" by Green Vangogh of Bath University - a proposal to study urban development in 12 cities across the USA; and a study by John Killock of the University of Westminster, London, which explores the potential for co-housing to accommodate ageing populations in India and China. Both students will receive a £500 camera.
"Once again, I have been impressed by the quality of all the entries," commented Lord Foster. "The standard was high, but the winning proposal stood out for its systematic analysis of a relevant issue. It is a serious, well thought through proposal and shows a sympathetic awareness of the social issues within self-built communities. Thomas has already been based in Nairobi, and understands some of the hardship he will encounter on his journey. Though difficult, this 'once in a lifetime' travel opportunity is very much in the spirit of the scholarship and I am pleased that we are able to support him."