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Iulia Cistelecan wins 2020 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship

The 2020 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Iulia Cistelecan, from the London School of Architecture, for her project ‘Life Between Shelters: Refugee camps of today becoming cities of tomorrow.’

25 June 2020

The 2020 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Iulia Cistelecan, from the London School of Architecture, for her project ‘Life Between Shelters: Refugee camps of today becoming cities of tomorrow.’

The annual RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship offers £7,000 to a student of architecture who demonstrates the potential for outstanding achievement and original thinking on issues that relate to the sustainable survival of cities and towns.

Iulia's project will examine the role that architecture can play in transforming today’s refugee camps into sustainable communities. Iulia will travel to four refugee camps across Africa, Western Asia, the Middle East and South Asia: Bidibidi (Uganda), Zaatari (Jordan), Shatila (Lebanon) and Kutupalong(Bangladesh). Her research will investigate the spaces between shelters, with a focus on the transition from temporary refugee camp to sustainable city. Iulia will also be exploring the importance of educational and social infrastructure in building community growth and resilience.

The 2020 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)
  • Farshid Moussavi (Founder, Farshid Moussavi Architecture; Professor in Practice of Architecture at Harvard University Graduate School of Design; Trustee of the Norman Foster Foundation)
  • Nicky Watson (Director JDDK Architects; RIBA Board Trustee; RIBA Council member for the North East, RIBA Vice-President for Education,)
  • Victoria Simpson (Associate Director dlg Architects, RIBA Education Development Group member)

Lord Foster said:

“I was delighted by the high standard of the 48 applications which were received from nearly thirty countries. After much deliberation, the jury were unanimous in their choice of Iulia Cistelecan’sproposal as this year’s very worthy winner. The findings from her study on the permanent nature of refugee camps will be universally valuable as well as advancing her own career."

RIBA President Alan Jones said:

“Iulia’s research promises to cover some of the most pressing matters of our time: the global refugee and climate crises. I am inspired to see Iulia - who represents the future of our profession -investigating architectural solutions to these complex issues – with her research considering space,education, social infrastructure and resilience. I very much look forward to seeing the findings ofIulia’s research.”


Notes to editors:

  1. Press contact +44 (0) 20 7496 8349
  2. Press images can be downloaded here.
  3. The RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship, supported by the Norman Foster Foundation, is now in its fourteenth 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.
  4. The Scholarship was established in 2006 by the Norman Foster Foundation with Foster and Partners, in association with the RIBA. In every other respect there is no link, financially or legally, between the Norman Foster Foundation and Foster and Partners.
  5. Past recipients of the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship:

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’

6. The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) is a global professional membership body that serves its members and society in order to deliver better buildings and places, stronger communities and a sustainable environment.  Follow @RIBA on Twitter for regular updates.

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