Norman Foster, [A]rchitect

As the great British architect Norman Foster turns 75, he talks to Jonathan Glancey about flying cars, his new underground city – and how he beat bowel cancer.

### Tuesday 29 June 2010 21.31 BST
Norman Foster at 75: Norman’s conquests
By Jonathan Glancey
“The other day,” says Norman Foster, “I was counting the number of aircraft I’ve flown: from sailplanes and a Spitfire to a Cessna Citation. By chance, it comes to 75.” So Foster, who turned 75 this month, has decided to make models of all 75, to hang in his own personal museum, which he keeps at his Swiss home, an 18th-century chateau set in vineyards between Lausanne and Geneva.
These model aircraft will hover over his collection of some of the 20th-century’s greatest machines, cherished for both their engineering brilliance and streamlined beauty; many of them look like winged or wheeled versions of Foster’s most innovative buildings. “At the moment,” says the architect, “I’m restoring a Citroën Sahara, designed to tackle north African dunes. I’m also thinking of getting a Bell 47 helicopter as a focal point. And I’ve had a model made of the Graf Zeppelin airship.”
The subject [architecture] is too often treated as a fine art, delicately wrapped in mumbo-jumbo. In reality, it’s an all-embracing discipline taking in science, art, maths, engineering, climate, nature, politics, economics. Every time I’ve flown an aircraft, or visited a steelworks, or watched a panel-beater at work, I’ve learned something new that can be applied to buildings.
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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr


Filed under Architecture, Business, Design, Geography, Innovation, Inspiration, Media, Name, People, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design

7 responses to “Norman Foster, [A]rchitect

  1. Peter

    Norman Foster is the prime creator of the vulgar new capital of Kazakhstan, Astana. People hate living there, particularly overseas people. He was given a blank canvas and basically told to go for it. Have a look on the internet.

  2. James

    Complaining about Norman Foster designing such buildings is rather like complaining about finding your new Ferrari doesn’t have an SUV-size boot. In the context of all the other steel and glass things that Foster has built, those buildings are exactly what you’d expect. The only person to blame would be whoever commissioned them.

  3. Peter

    This doesn’t make sense to me, James. He designed them. He presumably approved of his own design.

  4. James

    What you are saying doesn’t make any sense to me either. The buildings he designed in Astana look like his other buildings. Therefore, if you were to employ him as an architect, then I’d assume you’d expect to get something that looks like that.

  5. Peter

    Quite. I was only giving my opinion as to his style. For some he is regarded as a great architect and, in his own way, he is. However, I do not think of him in such a light because his style of grandiosity, in my view, is vulgar – as I said in the beginning.
    If you were wealthy enough to hire him for a project you may well hire him because you like what he does. All a matter of taste I suppose.

  6. James

    The only one of his buildings I’ve been inside is Hong Kong airport. Personally I really like it. Not so sold on the skyscrapers, and some of the integration with older buildings (thinking the Reichstag) are from my lay perspective, pretty cool.

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