Norman Foster: interview

With a hugely prolific career spanning four decades, Lord Norman Foster is one of the UK's most influential architects and an obvious choice for one of our 40th birthday heroes

  • Norman Foster: interview

    Lord Foster: 'We have much still to learn from our heroes of the past’

  • See all Time Out's 40th birthday London heroes

    You’ve been chosen as one of Time Out’s all-time heroes. How does it feel?

    ‘I am honoured! Great city and great magazine.’

    Who are your London heroes?

    ‘Joseph Bazalgette created a sewer system which he originally sized for London’s needs of the time – he then doubled it to anticipate the future beyond. These are the qualities that I admire. They are mirrored in the past structures of the nineteenth century – such as Brunel’s Paddington station, Ware’s Burlington Arcade and Waterhouse’s Natural History Museum. They all exuded confidence and a great sense of civic pride. We have much still to learn from our heroes of the past.’

    What’s your personal favourite moment in London?

    ‘A years ago I flew over London at night by helicopter. I got the most incredible buzz. It was breathtaking to see the carpet of the metropolis below like a twinkling fairyland and to be able to comprehend it. Everything is reversed out – the parks appear as black notes – the roads as streams of light. I travel continuously and I see many cities, but there is nowhere like London.’

    What’s the future for your field in London?

    ‘I hope that any expansion of London will learn from the planning examples of some of its most desirable areas such as Chelsea, Notting Hill, Belgravia and Mayfair. All are characterised by high density and a generosity of green spaces. They are all pedestrian-friendly with shops, entertainment, restaurants and pubs within easy walking distance. We should learn from these exemplars.’

    What does Time Out mean to you?

    ‘Informed information, plus the pulse of the City – it started with London but now it’s everywhere.’

    Complete the sentence: London is…

    ‘…just fantastic!’
    See all Time Out's 40th birthday London heroes

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