The 2019 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Siti Nurafaf Ismail from the University of Malaya in Malaysia for her proposal ‘Architecture of Humility’, which explores the role of the architect within community architecture in natural disaster zones.

The £7,000 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship supports a student of architecture with a period of international research on a topic related to the sustainable survival of cities and towns.

Siti Nurafaf Ismail’s project examines three cities affected by natural disaster; she has already completed the first phase of her research in Lombok, and this scholarship will enable her to travel to Hokkaido and Karachi – two cities devastated by recent earthquakes. Working with local volunteer organisations, Siti will be exploring each community’s rebuilding process first-hand and examining how the ‘architect’ fits into that experience.

The 2019 scholarship jury comprised: Lord Foster (Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners; President, Norman Foster Foundation); Ben Derbyshire (RIBA President); Farshid Moussavi (Founder, Farshid Moussavi Architecture; Professor in Practice of Architecture, Harvard University Graduate School of Design; and Trustee, Norman Foster Foundation); Armstrong Yakubu (Senior Partner, Foster + Partners); and Jo Ashbridge (Founder and Director, Azuko; member of the RIBA Education Development Group).

The jury also commended the entries ‘Assessing Gentrification’ by David Ballestrazzi of the University of Ferrara, ‘DIY Cities’ by Mounira El Halabi of Beirut Arab University - Tripoli Campus and ‘The Age of Timber’ by Finbar Charleson of the Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL.

Lord Foster said: “The calibre and high quality of the entries this year gave us in the jury an extremely tough challenge. In the end, one submission stood out for its clear focus and objectives. Everything from the budget to the choice of locations in Siti Nurafaf Ismail’s project was well-researched and she showed a great deal of initiative in self-funding the first phase of the research. I wish her the very best and look forward to seeing the project develop throughout her travels.”

RIBA President Ben Derbyshire said: “I am delighted that the 2019 RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been awarded to Siti Nurafaf Ismail, to support her research into communities affected by natural disasters. Siti’s impressive proposal clearly demonstrated her commitment to architecture and her motivation for the project. I look forward to seeing her findings and wish her all the best for her travels to Hokkaido and Karachi.”

Notes to editors:

  1. For further press information contact Abigail Chiswell-White at or +44 (0)20 7307 3811

  2. First established in 2006, the scholarship is now in its thirteenth year and is intended to fund international research on a topic related to the 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.

  3. Past recipients of the RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship:
  • 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, Australia, ‘Weaving the Urban Fabric: Examining the Significance of Community’
  • 2015: Charles Palmer - University of Sheffield, UK, ‘Cycling Megacities’
  • 2014: Joe Paxton - Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), UK, ‘Buffer Landscapes 2060
  • 2013: Sigita Burbulyte - Bath University, UK, ‘Charles Booth Going Abroad’
  • 2012: Thomas Aquilina - University of Edinburgh, UK, ‘Material Economies: Recycling Practices in Informal Settlements Along African Longitude 30’
  • 2011: Sahil Bipin Deshpande - Rizvi College of Architecture, Mumbai, 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, Mumbai, India, ‘The Role of Public Transport in Shaping Sustainable Humane Habitats: Case Studies Across Three Continents
  • 2007: Ben Masterton-Smith - Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL), UK, ‘Emerging East: Exploring and Experiencing the East Asian Communist City’
  1. 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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