Arup was born of our founder’s conviction that a more collaborative and open-minded approach to engineering would lead to work of greater quality and enduring relevance. Sir Ove's legacy is an organisation that continues to be recognised for bravely imaginative solutions to the world’s most challenging projects.
Arup on film
For over 75 years, Arup has been a place where creative people can develop their talents, collaborate with likeminded colleagues and produce incredible work. From Ove’s founding interest in function and beauty, to today’s urgent need for a more sustainable built environment, discover the many different ways we continue to shape the modern world:
A history of innovation
Our people are independent by nature, with the confidence to take on some of the world’s most challenging projects. For over 75 years we have nurtured pioneers and original thinkers, becoming a welcome home for the creative and ambitious. From concert halls that set new standards of acoustic detail to designing the physical connections between nations, ours is a story of relentless innovation.
Maintaining its founder’s individuality and spirit, Arup today is a place where talented people can pose difficult questions and chart a better course. Owned by its members, the organisation’s commercial independence underpins its commitment to developing sustainable development outcomes across the built environment.
Starting a legacy
In 1946 philosopher and engineer Ove Arup sets up his consulting engineering business in London, an organisation with a highly collaborative ‘Total Architecture’ vision for how the built environment should be produced.
Busáras - Dublin's central bus station
Busáras is one of Ireland's most important modernist buildings. Designed by Michael Scott and team, it also represents Ove Arup's first work in Ireland, leading to the creation of Arup's Dublin office in 1946. Hired as the consulting engineer, Busáras represented a significant challenge, both due to its size and the sophistication of its design.
The Brynmawr rubber factory
Brynmawr Rubber Factory was a significant early project in which Ove Arup demonstrated his approach to structural engineering on ambitious concrete forms. The factory’s main floor comprised nine shells using reinforced concrete, forming a striking modernist structure.
Ove Arup is awarded Commander of the British Empire (CBE), a U.K. honour for contributions to the arts and sciences, work with charitable and welfare organisations, and public service.
Having been bombed beyond repair in WW2, in 1950 it was decided that a modern replacement should be designed. Ove Arup & Partners were appointed structural engineer, working with architect Basil Spence. The resulting design is a much admired modernist cathedral, one that retains the ruins of the original building as a tribute to those lost to the conflict.
Kingsgate Bridge, Durham, UK
This elegant concrete bridge over the River Wear connects Durham University’s 19th century buildings to its campus south of the river. It was the last project Ove designed himself, and he would describe it as a “complete integration of architecture, structure and method of construction”.
The Key Speech
Ove Arup articulates his vision for the firm in ‘The Key Speech’. This philosophical talk defined the firm’s purpose, shape and values and signalled its future as a membership-owned organisation. The values and principles agreed that night continue to guide us in our work today.
Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia
The construction of the structurally iconic Sydney Opera House brought Arup global recognition. Design begins in the 1950s, and the complex design work for the iconic pre-cast concrete shells is finally achieved through the pioneering use of computers.
Centre Pompidou, Paris, France
After winning a competition in 1971 with then unknown architects Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers, Arup takes on the revolutionary Centre Pompidou in Paris. The design’s placing of structural elements and building services on the outside of the building called for innovative approaches to the engineering.
Another of Arup’s many collaborations with architect Norman Foster, the HSBC building in Hong Kong remains a triumph of high-tech, user-centred design. The structure’s complex multi-tower form was particularly challenging, and much of the building had to be produced abroad and assembled off-site.
The Lloyd’s Building, London, UK
Completed in 1986, this ‘high-tech’ building was designed with Richard Rogers. Like the Pompidou Centre, its services, staircases, lifts, electrical power cables and water pipes are placed on the outside – a fundamental part of the design.
The Menil Collection, USA
Completed in 1987, The Menil Collection, USA demonstrates the effectiveness of truly integrated design. The gallery’s shading, lighting, ventilation services and structures are all component parts of the architecture. We worked with the architect Renzo Piano to develop a louvre-style roof made of 300 ‘light leaves’ which acted as shade and heat shield to protect the art.
Kansai International Airport, Japan
At Kansai International Airport, Japan we made pioneering use of computational fluid dynamics to design the roof of the steel-clad passenger terminal, another collaboration with Renzo Piano. The result is an expressive, unobstructed space with a draught-free climate for the main passenger areas.
Angel of the North, near Gateshead, UK
Curved steel contours and a wingspan approaching jumbo-jet proportions have helped the Angel of the North achieve iconic status. Artist Antony Gormley’s creation celebrates Britain’s industrial past in an essentially modern and public work. We resurrected local shipbuilding skills and combined them with boundary-pushing 3D modelling technology to produce the sculpture.
Yannawa Wastewater Treatment, Thailand
The district in Bangkok lacked any system for collecting sewage. We laid 55km of major sewers beneath the canals, dramatically minimising disruption to the roads. Yannawa was the first major environmental project to become operational in the Thai capital and remains one of our most significant urban water engineering projects. Now two million people can benefit from reliable wastewater collection and the canals are much cleaner.
Øresund Bridge, Denmark and Sweden
When the Øresund Bridge opened in 2000, it simplified the trip from Malmö, Sweden to Copenhagen, Denmark into a 35-minute drive. We led the design consortium on this ambitious project, part rail-and-road bridge, part underwater tunnel, part artificial island. Huge sections of the superstructure were prefabricated offsite before being lifted into place by floating cranes.
The National Aquatics Center, ‘Water Cube’, Beijing, China
The design of the former Olympic swimming venue, now a water park, is inspired by the formation of soap bubbles. It has a self-cleaning façade made from a translucent plastic 100 times lighter than glass and much better at collecting heat, saving on both lighting and heating.
Singapore Sports Hub, Singapore
Singapore Sports Hub is the first stadium in the world to be purpose built for football, rugby, cricket and athletics, as well as concerts and festivals. We worked on all architectural and engineering aspects of the project, from urban design and architecture to blast engineering and lighting.
Our work across the built environment has encouraged us to think long and deeply about what makes a successful city. Our Cities Alive research series puts a variety of different urban agendas under the spotlight, from children’s experiences to the need for more active travel and greener building envelopes. These are ideas that can shape cities where everybody thrives.
King’s Cross, London, UK
Redeveloping the Grade I listed King’s Cross station into a transport hub fit for the modern age required clever engineering and sympathetic design. We also mapped and modelled pedestrian behaviour to understand how millions of people use the station, producing insights that helped shape the redevelopment and identify revenue opportunities
Lake Mead, Nevada, US
At 180km long, this is the largest manmade reservoir in the US. We developed a deep-water intake on the lakebed 100m below the surface. In one of the most complex tunnelling operations ever attempted, we designed a 200m-deep shaft and a 5km-long bored tunnel below the lake to connect with the new intake.
A climate for change
Our partnership with the C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group (C40) is one way we are helping galvanise people into taking collective action. Over a three year period, Arup would invest $1 million into research through the partnership with C40, to offer cities increased insight to accelerate action on global climate change.
Signing the "Paris Pledge" at the COP21 Summit
At the COP21 Summit in Paris in December 2015, we secured a historic agreement to limit global warming to less than 2°C. We participated in the event and pledged our full support for this important outcome. We’ve seen mounting evidence of progressive business thinking on climate change, and welcomed the opportunity that COP21 gave firms like ours to be at the forefront of meaningful action.
‘Engineering the world’ at the V&A Museum
In its first season celebrating the role engineering plays in people’s lives, the V&A curated an exhibition about Arup: “Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design”. This was a major retrospective on Ove Arup and the contribution he made to engineering, the work of our firm and how Arup continues to shape a better world.
Queensferry Crossing, Edinburgh, UK
The Queensferry Crossing is Scotland’s largest infrastructure project for a generation and the longest three-tower, cable-stayed bridge in the world. Real-time sensor data protects travellers and employees by monitoring the impact of weather and motion and is one of the first bridges to have live ‘health checks’ for infrastructure.
The UK’s transition to zero carbon emissions is a huge challenge for a nation that usess gas for heating. Our work on Hy4Heat is exploring the how to switch the existing gas network to use hydrogen – a zero emission fuel. It’s a huge shift, so we’re helping at every level, from advisory and governance considerations, to the technical, safety and operational issues.
Printing the built environment
In most people’s minds 3D printing conjures up images of small-scale prototypes intricately built up in white resin. At Arup we have bigger ideas. Our structural engineers have explored the full potential of robotic welding to create complex structures. The results are remarkable, as seen with the 12m MX3D bridge in Amsterdam.
Crossrail, London, UK
When Crossrail, now known as the Elizabeth line, commenced operation in May 2022, it represented the culmination of more than three decades of endeavour, collaboration and tenacity. Millions of passengers will benefit from the new system, which connects areas to the west and east of the capital, expanding capacity on London’s busy rail network by 10% with a fast and regular service.
Sagrada Familia – The Towers, Barcelona, Spain
We are helping the Sagrada Familia Foundation to produce the remaining six towers of Gaudi's creation. In all our work we have used a new generation of digital tools to produce workable structural designs that will complete the tops of the towers for this breath-taking church.
Meet our history
Watch this series of films to learn more about some of the people who shaped our history and the contributions that they made to a better world.