Arup’s values are derived from the beliefs and convictions of our founder, the engineer and philosopher Ove Arup.

He believed that work was only valuable when it had something higher to strive for. We continue to embody that idea – that our work is truly profitable when it shapes a better world.  

A commitment to the planet 

Our people are working at the forefront of a more sustainable world, developing new approaches to the built and natural environments we all share. Our work is focused on producing safe, inclusive and resilient communities, infrastructure and cities. We recognise that sustainable development encompasses many different factors. So, our work also prioritises environmental regeneration, biodiversity, conservation of resources, stable economic growth and social value. 

The Key Speech

On 9 July 1970 in Winchester, Sir Ove delivered ‘The Key Speech’ to all his partners from the various Arup practices. In this speech Ove set out the aims of our firm and, in his own distinctive and philosophical way, identified the principles by which they might be achieved. 

‘The Key Speech’ is still required reading for each person who joins Arup and is valuable to anyone who wants to understand what continues to motivate us, both as individuals and as an organisation.

Our values

The aims and principles laid out by Sir Ove continue to guide the work the work that we do and how we collaborate with clients and communities. Learn more about our values:

1. Quality of work

As an independent, employee-led organisation, Arup has always focused on producing work that sets standards in the industry, gaining a reputation as a place for ambitious people to develop their skills and produce their best work.

“Our work should be interesting and rewarding. Only a job done well, as well as we can do it – and as well as it can be done – is that. We must therefore strive for quality in what we do, and never be satisfied with the second-rate.” Sir Ove Arup, The Key Speech

2. Total architecture


Part of the company’s DNA, ‘total architecture’ (sometimes ‘total design’) is shorthand for the highly collaborative, multidisciplinary ethos Arup brings to client challenges. Whatever the challenge, total architecture produces the most user-centred, thoughtful and socially valuable design solutions.

“'Total Architecture' implies that all relevant design decisions have been considered together and have been integrated into a whole by a well organised team empowered to fix priorities.” Sir Ove Arup, The Key Speech

3. Humane organisation

The design of Arup itself, was as much a priority for Sir Ove, particularly as the organisation grew in size and scale. The principle of running a humane organisation shapes all of the firm’s activities and choices.

“An organisation which is human and friendly despite being large and efficient. Where every member is treated not only as a link in a chain of command, or as a wheel in a bureaucratic machine, but as a human being whose happiness is the concern of all.” Sir Ove Arup, The Key Speech

4. Straight and honourable dealings

How we conduct our work, with clients, suppliers, partners and communities, are clearly as important as the project outcomes we produce. In a complex world, our people continue to prioritise business ethics in everything we do.

“We should act honourably in our dealings with our own and other people. We should eschew nepotism or discrimination on the basis of nationality, religion, race, colour or sex.” Sir Ove Arup, The Key Speech

5. Social usefulness

For Sir Ove, the quality of a piece of work was inextricable from the social value it produced. Accordingly, as an organisation Arup should always aim to produce socially useful work or act in ways that benefit the communities touched by its work.

“Humanitarianism also implies a social conscience a social conscience, a wish to do socially useful work, and to join hands with others fighting for the same values. Our pursuit of quality should in itself be useful.” Sir Ove Arup, The Key Speech

6. Reasonable prosperity of members

As a collective and community, Arup’s pursuit of success remains subservient to the wider goals of developing work of quality, on projects with enduring social value. Financial success then, should be seen as a reflection of making other, more important choices.

Most people would say that this is our main aim, this is why we are in business. But it would be wrong to look at it as our main aim. We should rather look at it as an essential prerequisite for even the partial fulfilment of any of our aims.

Sir Ove Arup

The Key Speech