Droneport – Norman Foster is reducing scales and builds the smallest airport in Rwanda for drones.

With the message ‘Reporting from the Front’ the Curator of the XV architectural Biennale Alejandro Aravena has put the focus of the star architects on interesting concepts for developing countries.

One of these projects is Droneport by Foster + Partners. After working on large-scale airports, Stations, and even spaceport, now Lord Foster is developing the smallest – drone port. The Norman Foster Foundation initiated this project with other universities and research centers. This foundation promotes interdisciplinary thinking and research to help new generations of architects, designers and urbanologists to anticipate the future. The Prototype of Drone port was built and presented during the architectural Biennale in Venice, and is located at the End of Arsenale.


The port for the Cargo Drones is a modular vaulted system. The Project aims to create a meeting point for cargo drones with medical and emergency supplies; Areas with no infrastructure, transportation and geographical barriers are highly in need of cargo drones. In this points there will be post office, clinic and manufacture for drones – so this will be the significant meeting point for the local community.

Structure and Material

Most important in this project is the simplicity of the structure and the material itself. The vaulted structure is built only with mud bricks. For this project 18,000 customized bricks have been produced, they are smaller in size and weight less. ‘Durabric’ was initiated by the Lafarge Holcim Foundation. ‘Durabric’ is locally sourced compressed earth, cement water and sand. Compared to burnt clay-bricks, they are pressed with special machines. Therefore Durabric does not require firing. This is the next step against deforestation in Africa, where devastation of green areas is the main problem.

The Structure doesn’t require much specific knowledge to build. The local workers can be involved in construction, when the basic form work and brick-press machine are delivered on the site. The building material is locally sourced, so local community can easily participate in construction works.

This Structure is built with environmentally friendly building material. It is modular and in case of need it can be multiplied and the space can be used multi functional.


This initiative can be called leapfrogging (Leapfrog Strategy means to surpass or overthrow the superior barriers in various field, in this case with technological advantages). The Studies shows that Africa’s population will doubled to 2.2 billion by 2050, while there is no infrastructure and it will need huge amount of financial and time resources to serve this amount of population.

The Droneport will operate two type of drones. The ‘redline’ which will be using smaller drones for medical and emergency supplies and the ‘blueline’ transporting larger loads up to 10 kg. The Project starts in 2016 within Rwanda and is planned to be completed in 2020.

As Norman Foster says: ‘Rwanda’s challenging geographical and social landscape makes it an ideal test-bed for the Droneport project’.

Every year 450 000 people die with malaria, because of not getting blood and medical supplies on time.

‘This project can have massive impact through the century and save lives immediately.’ – Adds Foster.



Author: Tata Gachechiladze/Nana Zaalishvili


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