by Ben Fisher
Posted on September 16, 2015
London based Foster & Partners have launched proposals for a the DronePort project in Africa. It is essentially an airport for drones to support cargo drones routes. The concept is proposed to help deliver urgent and precious supplies to remote areas on a massive scale. The project is a collaboration between Redline partners led by Afrotech, École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL); the Norman Foster Foundation; and Foster + Partners.
Rural communities in Africa are often hard hit because they don’t have easy access to utilities and maintained roads. ust a third of Africans live within two kilometres of an all-season road, and there are no continental motorways, almost no tunnels, and not enough bridges that can reach people living in far-flung areas of the continent. It would require unprecedented levels of investment in roads and railways to catch up with the exponential growth in Africa’s population, which is set to double to 2.2 billion by 2050. An ‘infrastructural leap’ is essential using drone technology and clean energy systems to surmount the challenges of the future.
Droneports will be critical waypoints for moving blood and life-saving supplies over 100 kilometres at minimal cost, providing an affordable alternative that can complement road-based deliveries.
What’s exciting about the Droneport is what it offers the local population. The new typology for a building which they hope 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.