1966 - Ove Arup (1895-1988)

Labworth Cafe, Canvey Island

Designer: Arup, Sir Ove (1895-1988)
Copyright: Morley von Sternberg/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (2003)

Born in Newcastle upon Tyne of Danish-Norwegian parents, Arup's early education was in both Denmark and Germany as his father was the Danish Consul. Originally studying philosophy at Copenhagen University, Arup then chose to study as an engineer.


His first employer was the Danish engineering company, Christiani & Nielson, pioneers of reinforced concrete, originally in Hamburg before transferring to the London base in 1924.


Given Arup’s continental background and technical knowledge, he was able to integrate with the small schools of English architects working in reinforced concrete, including Berthold Lubetkin (himself a Royal Gold Medallist). Lubetkin introduced Arup to the Modern Architecture Research Group (MARS) which led Arup to disagree with his employers’ approach. Arup then moved to work for J L Kier as chief designer, primarily to collaborate with Tecton, Lubetkin’s group.


Awarded the Royal Gold Medal 'for his involvement in all the best buildings in this country since the 1930s, which have always been the better for it'.
Although Arup's relationship with Kier was short, he became both structural designer and contractor for Highpoint One (1935), Lubetkin's elegant flats in Highgate, and the penguin pool at London Zoo (1934).


Scheme for an air raid shelter for Finsbury Borough Council

Designer: Arup, Sir Ove (1895-1988); Lubetkin, Berthold (1901-1990); Skinner, Russell Thomas Francis (1908-1998)
Copyright: John Maltby/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1939)

In 1946, Arup started Ove Arup and Partners, an engineering consultancy mainly involved in the rebuilding of Britain, particularly new universities and motorways. How appropriate that Ove Arup and Partners were appointed as the engineer for Jørn Utzon’s Sydney Opera House (1957-66), after all, Utzon was Danish. Eventually, the consultancy formed its own architectural partners, Arup Associates, who designed the Birmingham University Mining and Metallurgy building (1966) and Loughborough University.