News and Events

First ever retrospective on Ove Arup opens to the public

Charlotte S Charlotte Fernández UKIMEA Press Office,Leeds
15 June 2016

Opening 18 June, "Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design" at the Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), London, celebrates the life and legacy of the 20th century’s greatest engineer Ove Arup (1895-1988).


Ove Arup redefined the way architects, designers and engineers work together through his pioneering philosophy of Total Design, which for him meant to ‘join all the professions right from the start’. Training first in philosophy, and with a highly poetic and imaginative sense of design, Ove revolutionised the fields of civil and structural engineering.

Arup, the firm Ove Arup founded in 1946, gave the V&A access to its archives and engineering experts in order to reveal the untold stories behind some of the world’s most recognisable buildings and projects.

Part of the V&A Engineering Season, the exhibition features over 150 previously unseen prototypes, models, archival materials, drawings, film and photography, as well as new immersive digital displays featuring animations, simulations and augmented reality to showcase over 100 years of creativity, engineering and architectural design.

This immersive exhibition presents a selection of Arup’s ground-breaking projects over the last century, including collaborations with leading architects like Berthold Lubetkin, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster. It also explores the pioneering work undertaken by Arup worldwide today, including major infrastructure projects like Crossrail, currently Europe’s largest underground railway, innovative technologies for acoustics studies like SoundLab® , SolarLeaf, , an experimental bio-reactive façade system that uses microalgae to generate renewable energy, and MassMotion 3D technology software.

Ove Arup was the greatest engineer of the 20th century. Unconventional and playful in his approach, his collaborative working style revolutionised building design during his lifetime and influenced how buildings are made today. Ove Arup’s career began at the height of the Modernist Movement in the 20th century and went on to last over five decades. The exhibition will paint a picture of the man whose ideas led to the creation of one of the most innovative and influential engineering consultancies working today. It will also present Arup’s contributions to nearly 100 years of developments in engineering and architectural design. Engineering the World will shed new light on the behind-the-scenes engineering stories that made possible some of the world’s most iconic buildings.

Maria Nicanor and Zofia Trafas White, co-curators of the exhibition, V&A

Ove Arup founded our firm with a highly original vision, combining philosophy and engineering to create a holistic approach to design that he called ‘total architecture’. Given the significant challenges the world faces, this pioneering approach to engineering design has never been more relevant than today. For his life and our on-going work to be recognised and celebrated by such a world renowned institution as the V&A is very gratifying. It demonstrates how Ove was a pioneer of his time and how the firm continues to follow his pursuit of creativity and innovation based on world class expertise. The V&A tells this story beautifully and we feel sure this exhibition will be an inspiration to the next generation of engineers, designers and all those interested in the built environment.

Tristram Carfrae, Deputy Chairman, Arup

Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design is the headline exhibition for the V&A Engineering Season. The exhibition will run from 18 June – 6 November and is supported by Volkswagen Group, with additional support from Tideway.