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Norman Foster scholarship finally awarded

The inaugural winner of the long-awaited RIBA Norman Foster Travelling Scholarship has been announced.

More than two years after Foster publicly pledged to donate £100,000 to help out students, Ben Masterton-Smith (pictured), from the Bartlett, has scooped the first ever Foster travel grant - landing himself a £6,000 hand-out.

Masterton-Smith wowed the judges with his proposed journey, titled Emerging East: Exploring and Experiencing the Asian Communist City.

The scholarship, which was finally unveiled last November following a protracted wrangle between Foster and the RIBA over the exact format of the bursary package (AJplus 15/11/06), will fund the student's international research.

Initially looking at the 'effects of communist ideologies on post-Korean War architecture' in North Korea, the fourth-year scholar will then move on to China before ending up in Vietnam, where he will examine the contrasting cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Speaking about the judging process, Foster said: 'We were delighted to receive a wide range of submissions from around the world for this inaugural competition, so many of which were of an extremely high standard.

'Of especial note was the emphasis that many placed on seriously addressing the complex design problem of a sustainable contemporary city.

'We congratulate Ben Masterton-Smith for his winning entry and look forward to seeing the results of his endeavour later this year.'

Two runners up, who both received commendations and £1,000, were Isaac Maina Njeru of the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Dean Munford, of the University of Westminster.

As well as Foster, the jury included RIBA President Jack Pringle, Fiona McLachlan, of Edinburgh University School of Architecture, and Foster and Partners duo Spencer de Grey and Stefan Behling.

by Richard Waite

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