Home   Architects   Schools   Objects   Library









  Name   Sir Ove Nyquist Arup
  Born   April 16, 1895
  Died   February 5, 1988
  Nationality   UK
  Official website    

Ove Arup was arguably one of the greatest engineers of the 20th century. Born in 1895 in Newcastle upon Tyne in England to Scandinavian parents, he first studied philosophy and graduated from the University of Copenhagen in 1916. Six years later, he received a second degree in engineering. This wide-ranging interest and curiosity was to influence both his own work and that of others with whom he consulted. Throughout his life—his practice Ove Arup and Partners grew to include more than 50 offices in 40 countries with a staff of almost 4,000—he retained a speculative yet rigorously questioning approach to design.

Having qualified as a civil engineer and with a special interest in reinforced concrete, Arup joined the Danish company Christiani and Nielsen in 1922, a company that designed and built civil engineering structures. He worked in Hamburg before moving to their London office, where he became chief designer in 1925.

With this experience not only in the design but also in the construction of structures, Arup became increasingly interested in developing a holistic approach to design. His particular skill in the use of a new material, reinforced concrete, created opportunities for him to work with other designers who were committed to the ideals of the Modern movement. Collaborating with Tecton (a group of young architects in London) and with Berthold Lubetkin in particular, Arup was to play an influential role in the design of a several iconic buildings of the period. The first was the Gorilla House (1933) at the London Zoo, followed by the Penguin Pool (1934). Both explored the fluid forms made possible by using reinforced concrete. He went on to work with Lubetkin on the design of Highpoint One. This residential building in London was also built in reinforced concrete but explored the potential of the material to create an eight-story tower.

The construction of Highpoint coincided with Arup’s move in 1934 to join J.L.Kier and Company, the contractors who built the scheme. This project was especially significant because it allowed Arup and Lubetkin to work on a design that required the complete integration of architecture, structure, and building method. As a result, Arup became increasingly enthusiastic about collaboration between the professions in building design, an enthusiasm that motivated his own practice. Established in 1946, the practice was formerly called Ove Arup and Partners, Consulting Engineers, in 1949, flourishing in the postwar period with the reconstruction of cities and the design of numerous new buildings and improved infrastructure. Arup was sought out by an increasing number of architects, especially those who were interested in innovative forms of engineering, integrative design, and the use of new materials. His work at this time included the Brynmawr Rubber Factory (1952, Gwent) in Wales, designed with Architects CoPartnership; Michael Scott’s Bus Station and Offices (1952) in Dublin; and the Hunstanton School (1954, London), designed by Alison and Peter Smithson. After the young Danish architect Jørn Utzon won the competition to design the Sydney Opera House in Australia in 1957, he asked Arup to collaborate on the design. Arup played a central role in the translation of the architect’s early sketches into an outstanding building defined by the famous series of elegant vaulted roofs. After the building opened to acclaim in 1973, the material research and design studies established Arup’s reputation as an engineer of great creativity and international standing.

Arup designed a number of significant civil engineering projects, including the Kingsgate Footbridge (1963) over the River Wear in Durham, England. He brought together structural and civil engineers, environmental engineers, building economists, and architects in a parallel partnership, Arup Associates, to design buildings and engineering structures. Ove Arup and Partners grew as a multidisciplinary consultancy and became one of the largest engineering design practices in the world. This collaborative, interprofessional way of working enhanced talent and made the practice a center for design innovation and research. After the Sydney Opera House, Arup and his colleagues worked with the German engineer Frei Otto on the development of lightweight structures, studies that were to result in projects such as the Garden Pavilion (1975) in Mannheim. Collaboration with Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano on their competition entry for the Centre Pompidou in Paris was awarded first prize in 1971. In 1979 a further collaboration with Richard Rogers and another with Norman Foster resulted in successful designs for limited competitions for new headquarters buildings for Lloyds of London (1979–85) and the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank (completed in 1986) in Hong Kong. Arup also continued to work with Renzo Piano on numerous projects, including the Menil Gallery (1984) and Kansai International Airport (1988–94).

Arup advocated a way of working that not only brought together many of the disciplines to generate ideas at the beginning of the design process but that also created multidisciplinary teams that directed projects through to completion. Many other significant engineers emerged from the practice, including Jack Zunz, Ted Happold, Tom Barker, Peter Rice, Jane Wernick, Chris Wise, and Cecil Balmond.

Arup received the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1966 and in 1971 was knighted by the queen of England for his services to architecture and engineering. His inspiration created a practice that has been central to the development of outstanding architecture and structural design worldwide. He remained actively involved in practice until his death in 1988.



16 April 1895 Born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, to Danish parents;

1916 Studied philosophy and mathematics, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; bachelor of arts ;

1916–22 studied civil engineering, Royal Technical College, Copenhagen;

1922 bachelor of science;

1922–25 Designer , Christiani and Nielsen, Hamburg, Germany;

1925 Married Ruth Sorenson :3 children;

1925–34 chief designer , Christiani and Nielsen, Hamburg, Germany;

1933 Founding member, MARS (Modern Architecture Research Group), London ;

1934–38 chief designer, J.L.Kier and Company, London;

1938–46 Director, Arup Designers Ltd., London and Arup and Arup Ltd. with cousin ;

1938–45 consultant engineer to the Air Ministry, London ;

1940 fellow, Institute of Structural Engineers ;

1946–49 private practice as engineering consultant, London ;

from 1949 senior partner, Ove Arup and Partners, London ;

1951 fellow, Institute of Civil Engineers ;

1953 Commander, Order of the British Empire ;

1955 Visiting lecturer, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts ;

1955–59 chairman, Society of Danish Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland ;

from 1963 senior partner, Arup Associates, London;

1965 Chevalier, Order of the Dannebrog, Denmark;

1966 Gold Medal, Royal Institute of British Architects ;

1970 Alfred Bossom Lecturer, Royal Society of Arts, London;

1971 Knight Bachelor ;

1975 fellow, American Concrete Institute;

1975 Commander, Order of the Dannebrog, Denmark;

1980 Aga Khan Award for Architecture ;

2 February 1988 Died in London, England.


Arup, Ove, Ove Arup, London: Institution of Civil Engineers, 1995

Dunster, David (editor), Arups on Engineering, London: Ernst and Sohn, 1996

Rice, Peter, An Engineer Imagines, London: Artemis, 1994; 2nd edition, London: Ellipsis, 1996

Silver, Nathan, The Making of Beaubourg: A Building Biography of the Centre Po mpidou, Paris, Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1994

Sommer, Degenhard, Herbert Stöcher, and Lutz Weisser, Ove Arup and Partners: Engineerin g the Built Envi ronment : Philosophpy, Projects, Experience, Basel and Boston: Birkhäuser Verlag, 1994

    Lubetkin and Tecton (Great Britain); Piano, Renzo (Italy); Rogers, Richard (Great Britain); Sydney Opera House









New Projects



Support us