33. Norman Foster vaulted Droneport prototype
Architecture: Foster + Partners. Collaborators: Block Research Group, Redline, MecoConcept, LafargeHolcim Foundation. Construction: Carlos Martín Jiménez, Sixto Cordero, Luisel Zaya, Segundo Victor Simba, Luis Alfonso Tituania Male.
Foster + Partners has unveiled the first full-scale prototype of its Droneport concept at the Arsenale, which is designed to transport medical supplies to remote regions in Africa using unmanned flying vehicles. The structure is the inaugural project from the Norman Foster Foundation, set up by the British architect to anticipate technological advances in the field, respond to humanitarian needs and encourage a more “holistic” view of architecture.
The vaulted form is made up from two layers of a new type of compressed earth blocks called Durabric, developed by the Lafarge Holcim Foundation for sustainable construction with researchers at the Block Research Group from ETH in Zurich and MecoConcept in Toulouse. The Norman Foster Foundation is also exploring how a solar-powered building material developed by artist Olafur Eliasson, called SolarBrick, could be 3D printed in future drone ports. The material has its roots in Eliasson’s design for a solar-power light named Little Sun, and would feature a solar panel on its outer surface to power an LED light on its inner surface. It could provide artificial lighting for drone ports in areas where electricity is scarce.
As explained by the architects “the Droneport project is about doing more with less, capitalising on the recent advancements in drone technology – something that is usually associated with war and hostilities – to make an immediate life-saving impact in Africa.”