The 2015 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Charles Palmer of Sheffield University School of Architecture for his proposal, ‘Cycling Megacities’.

The study will take Charles to megacities in four developing countries – Mexico City, Mexico; Lagos, Nigeria; Dhaka, Bangladesh and Shenzhen, China, each of which presents different challenges to bicycle advocacy and urban design. He will explore how policies, investments and campaigns are transforming urban public space in a bid to make the bicycle a transportation option for all social classes.

The jury was chaired by Lord Foster and comprised Stephen Hodder, RIBA President, Lady Hopkins, Founding Partner of Hopkins Architects, Peter Oborn, RIBA Vice President International and Spencer de Grey, Roger Ridsdill Smith and Narinder Sagoo of Foster + Partners.

During the debate, the jury also highly commended ‘Extreme Environments’ by Teodora Todorova of the University of Architecture, Civil Engineering and Geodesy, Sofia. Teodora will receive a camera as a prize for her proposal to study some of the world’s driest, wettest and coldest regions.


Once again, the high standard of scholarship entries led to a lively and enjoyable debate. I congratulate Charles Palmer on this result – the jury felt this was an important subject, with an interesting focus on these rapidly expanding cities, and we were interested in the potential lessons that this research could offer for UK policy. Any planning initiatives will fail if we don’t address the social drivers behind people’s transport choices, therefore his proposal to examine the changing status of the bicycle in these different cities is particularly worthwhile.
Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman
I am delighted that the 2015 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship award will help explore the influence of cycling and its impact on the shaping of urban public space across the world. As a keen cyclist, I am conscious that it is an issue which is not being dealt with as well as it should be in the UK, and was pleased to see that the intention of this research is to inform the debate and guide UK policy. I look forward to reading Charles’ findings in due course, which, thanks to the generosity of Foster + Partners, will no doubt build on the work being conducted by the RIBA on healthy cities.
Stephen Hodder, RIBA President

Notes to editors:

  • The winning proposal can be viewed online, along with previous awards.
  • Initially set up in 2006 as a biennial programme, the £6,000 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship is awarded to one student to fund international research on a topic and in a location of their choice. In 2009, Foster + Partners enabled the Scholarship to be awarded annually by donating an extra £100,000 to the endowment.
  • For information about applying to the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship, contact John-Paul Nunes or Hayley Russell in the RIBA Education Department on 020 7307 3678, or visit the Norman Foster Scholarship page on the RIBA website.

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