Lord Foster Humanitas Oxford University Lecture November 2011
“Imagine how differently we might understand the modern world if we could travel back in time. We would discover that the cathedrals, the castles and the viaducts that form our ‘heritage’ were once new themselves and were seen as quite alien at the time; and that many of the landscapes we revere as ‘natural’ were in fact shaped subtly by man — some the outcome of the Industrial Revolution itself. We would also find that many of the challenges we face now have been met before.
Given the need to upgrade Britain’s infrastructure for the 21st century, and in the absence of a time machine, we have to try to recapture the foresight and political courage of our 19th century forebears and to revive our traditions of architecture, engineering and landscape design. We have to draw lessons from our heritage, as well as inspiration from our Asian counterparts.”