It is almost a rule that one necessary step towards development is the implementation of infrastructure—roads, ports, airports, andrailways are meant to provide the connectivity to move goods, services, and people. There are many places in Africa that lack appropriate infrastructure, and it may take a while to put it in place. The proposal for a droneport is expected to provide one step towards development; using the air to move things on a small scale may be a shortcut that will ultimately save time and money without having to wait for heavy, conventional infrastructure. It is the equivalent of the old telephone line compared to the cellular network. Drones delivering medicine, food, or a missing piece to repair a car or water mill could be called a kind of cellular infrastructure.
Such a network has to have ports, and Norman Foster explored the idea of a port architecture that is modular (as many bays as are needed), flexible (able to grow if demand changes), uses local materials (compressed clay or mud bricks), and is sufficiently generic that, if need be, it can be used for many other programs (market, community center, covered square). Such are the specific contributions of the right architectural choice in order to make the building really serve the community over time.
Foster combines state-of-the-art engineering that can be built by almost everybody. He actually involved students in the construction, not as a pedagogical or academic statement but as a way to test the proposal’s transferability. In the end, each module will be compressed to a package of materials and procedures that will be sent to remote places and will have to be built by a local, not necessarily qualified, workforce. So the registration of the building process during the Biennale is meant to work as a kind of tutorial for the future. In this sense, the prototype is not only an object but a procedure as well.