Dr Robert Foster

Senior Lecturer

School of Civil Engineering
Faculty of Engineering, Architecture and Information Technology
+61 7 344 31399


Dr Robert Foster is a Senior Lecturer in the School of Civil Engineering. His research addresses the challenge of designing a healthier, more sustainable built environment for the world's growing urban population through better use of materials. Rob adopts a collaborative, design-led research approach to develop the fundamental and applied understanding that is needed to solve complex design challenges in practice. He is currently exploring the use of engineered timber as a sustainable, high-performance material for lightweighting and tall building applications.

Rob carried out his post-doctoral research at the University of Cambridge's Centre for Natural Material Innovation. That exploration of the future of engineered timber as a material for supertall building design received the 2016 President's Award for Design and Technical Research from the Royal Institute of British Architects. Rob holds a BA in Philosophy from the University of Wales Cardiff, an MEng in Civil & Architectural Engineering from the University of Bath and a PhD in structural engineering from the University of Cambridge.

Research Impacts

The collaborative nature of Rob's approach means that the architects and engineers that he works with are directly engaged in the act of research. This leads to greater knowledge transfer between academia and industry. The design outputs of his post-doctoral research have been shortlisted for and have won a range of international architecture awards and have been widely reported across a range of media outlets including the BBC, Wired, Science, The International New York Times and The Economist - raising the profile of timber as a material for tall building design. Rob is Co-Chair of a Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat working group on Tall Timber that is developing best-practice guidance for the design of taller timber buildings. He is often invited to speak on the subject of tall timber in non-academic settings including the Institution of Structural Engineers in London, the Bioekonomiskt Forum in Stockholm, the FIEP Fórum Visões in Curitiba and the 2017 CTBUH International Conference in Sydney. He is a contributing author to a recent World Economic Forum White Paper - Shaping the Future of Construction: Insights to redesign the industry.


  • Bachelor of Arts, University of Wales, Cardiff University
  • Master of Engineering, The University of Bath
  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge


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