Droneport Prototype

A full-scale prototype for a droneport designed by Foster+Partners built on site in the Arsenale in Venice, was unveiled at the 15th International Architecture Biennale. The droneport prototype is the first project to be presented by The Norman Foster Foundation.

The proposal is to create a network of droneports to deliver medical supplies and other necessities to areas of Africa that are difficult to access due to a lack of roads or other infrastructure and the ambition is that every small town in Africa and in other emerging economies will have its own droneport by 2030.

The project was announced as a new ‘infrastructural leap’ to support cargo drone routes capable of delivering urgent and precious supplies to remote areas on a massive scale. The pilot project was launched and was based in Rwanda, a country whose physical and social geography poses multiple challenges. The initial plan for three buildings, will enable the network to send supplies to 44 per cent of Rwanda.

Subsequent phases of the project could see in excess of 40 droneports across Rwanda, and the country’s central location could allow easier expansion to neighbouring countries such as Congo, saving many thousands more lives. The Droneport offers a new typology for a building, which it is hoped, will grow into a ubiquitous presence, much like petrol stations have become dispersed infrastructure for road traffic.

The proposal will have a strong civic presence, based on sharing and multiple uses. It allows for safe landing of quiet drones in a densely packed area, and includes a health clinic, a digital fabrication shop, a post and courier room, and an e-commerce trading hub, allowing it to become part of local community life.