Architect normal foster


            In the past decades, spectacular architecture was established by American, Japanese or Swiss architects but not until Architect Norman Foster of Britain seen visible. “Foster is the brand name that sells the product and he insists that he oversees everything done at the practice and highly profitable production of himself to run in cities across the world” [1](

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            The Foster architectural style is known as perfect, unfettered and environmentally conscious. “Colour is the human element in Foster’s architecture but it is also the element of nature as opposed to the culture of materials and structure and sometimes as much implied as applied” [2](Koolhaas 134). Another aspect of Foster style, it can direct the self-fining process of architecture with such harmony and balance that it often achieves an elegance that is barely perceptible. Foster’s works on buildings established his reputable recognition as a modern architect with a sensitivity to the site and environment.

            This research paper aims to discuss the life and works of Architect Sir Norman Foster. Specifically, be able to know the design principles, historical style, description and composition of the his works.

Life & Works

            Norman Foster was born on June 1, 1935 in the Manchester suburb of Levenshulme, in the county of Lancashire, England. Norman was a working-class boy since his father served in the Army but invalidated due wounds of World War II so his mother was also obliged to take a job. Throughout his teenage years, he was fascinated on construction of bicycles and art was his favorite and the strongest subject at Burnage High School. Norman “discovered the power of Tolstoy and Dostoyevsky as well as the world of architecture and became unconsciously aware of the connection between the technos of ancient Greek architecture and the speed and diversity offered by modern technology” [3](Quantrill 6).

            While working at the Town Hall, he attended in a course at Manchester College of Art  and “he had developed a resoluteness that has become a hallmark of his life and work” (Quantrill 9) and at the age of 21, he enrolled at Manchester University. Norman realized that his interest was in architecture and designing and he managed to win scholarships and prizes to undertake his European travels and further studies. In his final years, he applied for a Henry Fellowship to pursue postgraduate studies at Yale University. Thus, America greatly enriched Foster and discovered American modernism, he absorbed various aspects of contemporary architecture often opposing formal or conceptual approaches and also brought him “the discovery of a new sense of scale, a spaciousness just as suited to the landscape as the mentality of its inhabitants who were capable of enthusiasm and who believed in innovations and placed their trust in youth” [4](Treiber 10) unlike Europe that remained cold and reserved.

            In 1967, Norman began to work with Richard Rogers, a British were they not only have  common languages of form and criticism but also their shared beliefs and founded the Team 4. Fosters and Rogers “developed many of the characteristics that would henceforth distinguish their style, most importantly, they discovered their preferred material, steel.” (Treiber 16). The use of steel and cladding was determined by necessity.

            Since then, he received dozen of prestigious architectural awards among those was Stirling Award for American Air Museum, Pritzker Architecture Award in 1999, the highest honor in the profession. His notable works includes buildings known for its perfection. Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, UK (1974-78). The concept and structural origins of this art gallery came from Dutert’s Galerie des Machines, it made of space frame walls  which expresses the form and structure of a hangar giving great sense of continuity to the visitor.

            The Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank, Hong Kong (1979-86). The “most beautiful and expensive bank in the world” [5](Gossel 326). The redevelopment of the bank site “offered a unique opportunity to influence the balance of pedestrian access in the city” [6](Quantrill 104) since land is scarce in Hong Kong with its restrictive island boundaries and crowded cities for pedestrian circulation and recreation. The bank is made of steel frame and glass with a high tech modern style with “structural boldness and clarity that generates visual excitement seems quite difficult to find an equal” (Quantrill 104).

            Stansted Airport, UK (1981-91). The London’s third airport construction was approved by the residents in minutes due to the overload of the two established airport. There is very little transparency in air terminals and the invisibility of form and structure. Foster “applied structural realism through the use of trees and steel frame, that creates great sense of clarity and continuity across the entire terminal” (Quantrill 112).

            The Millau Viaduct, France (1993). Considered as the tallest bridge in the world. Foster proposed to the French Department of Transport and Public Works a multi-span inverted bridge made of reinforced concrete and steel cable “to minimize disruption of the valley’s landscape by limiting the number of support points and to control wind and other forces that might throw the bridge out of balance, the deck was restrained by a net of tension cables” (Quantrill 204).

            The Carré d’Art, Nimes (1984-93). Old building of Maison Carree is quiet aloof from the place and the classical symmetry and axiality is nonexistent. Foster creates a diagonal route at the entrance level that promote links between two main roadways encouraging movement into the building. He was “influenced by the local architecture of traditional Nimeoise houses, Roman Arena and the Jardins de la Fontaine” [7](Quantrill 142)

            Business Promotion Centre, Duisburg, Germany (1988-93). The city council wanted to regenerate the city, this work intended to promote and develop Duisburg, “the project have sealed glass external wall and the building had to look good as well as function well from an environmental point of view” (Quantrill 158). The elliptical plan developed an analysis of the shadow angle from adjoining sites. .

            Chek Lap Kok Airport, Hong Kong, China (1998). The world’s largest airport made up of steel barrel vaults. “White and light shades of gray are used to enhance the space and quality of light creating an artificial sky by means of vast, gray roof while stronger colours are confined to information signs making the terminals more legible to passengers” [8](Koolhaas 124).

            30 St Mary Axe, London (2000-04). A commercial office tower made of glass cladding, said to be London’s first environmentally sustainable skyscraper” and winner of the 2004 RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture.


            Sir Norman Foster is one the world’s most significant architect in our modern times. He pioneered the use of steel structure in the construction industry and his High-Tech modernism style demonstrates uncompromising exploration of creative and technological innovations and forms in architecture.
Works Cited

Gossel, Peter and Leuthauser, Gabriele. Architecture in the Twentieth Century. Germany :

            Taschen. 2001.

Irvine, Ian. Norman Foster : Man of Steel. The Independent People. September 9, 2006.


Koolhaas, Rem. Colours. Basel, Switzerland : Birhauser. 2001.

Quantrill, Malcolm. The Norman Foster Studio : Consistency through Diversity.

            London : E & FN Spon. 1999.

Treiber, Daniel. Norman Foster. London : E & FN Spon. 1995.

[1]    Ian Irvine, Norman Foster : Man of Steel, The Independent People, September 9, 2006, <
[2]    Rem Koolhaas, Colours, (Basel, Switzerland: Birhauser, 2001)
[3]                Malcolm Quantrill, The Norman Foster Studio : Consistency through Diversity. (London: E & FN Spon, 1999).
[4]                Daniel Treiber, Norman Foster, (London: E & FN Spon, 1995).
[5]                Peter Gossel and Gabriele Leuthauser, Architecture in the Twentieth Century, (Germany: Taschen, 2001).
[6]                Malcolm Quantrill, The Norman Foster Studio : Consistency through Diversity. (London: E & FN Spon, 1999).
[7]                Malcolm Quantrill, The Norman Foster Studio : Consistency through Diversity. (London: E & FN Spon, 1999).
[8]    Rem Koolhaas, Colours, (Basel, Switzerland: Birhauser, 2001)

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