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Ove Nyquist Arup
Personal information
Nationality Anglo-Danish
Birth date April 16, 1895(1895-04-16)
Birth place Newcastle upon Tyne, England
Date of death February 5, 1988 (aged 92)
Place of death London, England
Education Soro Academy, Denmark
Copenhagen University
Polyteknisk Læreanstalt
Spouse Ruth Sorenson
Parents Jens Simon Johannes Arup
Mathilde Jolette Nyquist
Engineering Discipline Structural engineer
Institution memberships Institution of Structural Engineers
Practice name Arup
Significant projects Sydney Opera House
Centre Pompidou
Kingsgate Bridge
Highpoint I
Labworth Café
Significant Awards IStructE Gold Medal
RIBA Gold Medal

Sir Ove Nyquist Arup, CBE, MICE, MIStructE (16 April 1895 – 5 February 1988) was a leading Anglo-Danish engineer, the founder of the internationally important firm of Arup and generally considered to be one of the foremost engineers of his time.[1]


Early life and education

Arup was born in Newcastle, England in 1895, to Jens Simon Johannes Arup and Mathilde Bolette Nyquist. Arup attended the Sorø Academy in Denmark—a boarding school with many influences from Dr Thomas Arnold of the Rugby School in the United Kingdom.

In 1913, he began studying philosophy at Copenhagen University and in 1918 enrolled for an engineering degree at the Polyteknisk Læreanstalt, Copenhagen, specialising in reinforced concrete. He completed his studies in 1922. At this time Ove Arup was influenced by Charles Edouard Jeanneret (Le Corbusier) and his publication Vers une architecture, published that year; and also by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus movement.

Working life


Before WWII

In 1922, he began work with a Danish firm in Hamburg called Christiani & Nielsen, and in December 1923 he moved to their London office as chief engineer.[2]

Arup married Ruth Sorenson, known as Li, on 13 August 1925.[3]

Between 1932–33 he designed the Labworth Café—a café with two integrated shelters set on the promenade of the neighbouring Essex seaside resort of Canvey Island. The café exists as the only building solely designed by Arup.[4] He then worked as structural consultant to the Tecton partnership, notably on the Penguin Pool at London's Regent’s Park Zoo,[5] Whipsnade Zoo, Dudley Zoo and on Highpoint One, Highgate (a building he was later highly critical of). The close working relationship that Arup developed with Tecton's senior partner Berthold Lubetkin, proved to be highly important in the development of both men's careers.[2]

He moved next to a London construction company, J. L. Kier & Co. in London, as director and chief designer from 1934–1938, and during the 1930s he also worked with Ernö Goldfinger, Wells Coates, Maxwell Fry, Yorke, Rosenberg & Mardall and Marcel Breuer.[2]

He became a member of the executive committee of the MARS Group in 1935.[2]

In 1938, with his cousin Arne Arup he founded Arup & Arup Limited, a firm of engineers and contractors.[2]

World War II

Before the war Ove Arup was on the Air Raid Precautions organising committee and he advised Finsbury Council on the provision of bomb shelters. During the war he published a number of papers on shelter policy and designs, mainly advocating reinforced concrete mass shelters, rather than the government policy of dispersing the population in small domestic shelters. Largely for political reasons most of his recommendations were never adopted, although some wealthy Londoners were able to build concrete shelters according to his design. Arup played a significant part in the design of the temporary harbours used during the D-Day landings.[2]

Arup & Partners

Arup led the engineering design of Sydney Opera House and made its construction possible.

In 1946, after dissolving Arup & Arup Ltd, he created a team of Civil and Structural Engineering consultants. In 1949, he formed his first partnership with Ronald Jenkins, Geoffrey Wood and Andrew Young called Arup and Partners.

A further company, Arup Associates,[6] was formed in 1963 as a new partnership, a body of Architects and Engineers working on an equal basis as Building Designers:[7] the engineer Ove Arup, the architects Francis Pym and Philip Dowson, and the former partners of Arup and Partners. It was a multi-disciplinary company providing engineering, architectural, and other services for the built environment. Arup said himself that ultimately, all of the Arup names resulted in a firm called simply Arup.[2]

Notable projects

Highpoint I

Highpoint I was an important experiment in high-rise residential design, and was one of Arup's most significant collaborations with Lubetkin. Arup later criticised the project as having significant flaws.[1]

Sydney Opera House

Arup was the design engineer for the Sydney Opera House in Sydney, Australia from the project's start in 1957 to its completion in 1973. An iconic building making groundbreaking use of precast concrete, structural glue and computer analysis, this made Arup's reputation, and that of his firm, despite the extremely difficult working relationship with the architect, Jørn Utzon.

Kingsgate Bridge

Kingsgate Bridge seen from Durham Students Union, the Cathedral above.

Ove Arup personally supervised the design and construction of Durham's Kingsgate Bridge in 1963. The firm's first bridge, Arup was particularly attached to the project and had his ashes scattered from it following his death. A bust of Arup that was placed at one end of the Bridge was stolen in the summer of 2006.



  1. ^ a b Jones, 2006.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g Jones, 2006. (p. 31).
  3. ^ Jones, 2006. (p. 44).
  4. ^ "...the Labworth Café, the only building designed by the distinguished engineer Ove Arup." (Bettley, 2008). " of the only architectural designs by Ove Arup", (English heritage, 2007).
  5. ^ Glynn, 1998-2006.
  6. ^ Brawne, 1983.
  7. ^ Brawne, 1983. (p. 7).


  • Brawne, Michael. (1983). Arup Associates: The biography of an architectural practice. London: Lund Humphries. ISBN 0853314497 (casebound) ISBN 0853314519 (paperback)
  • Bettley, James. (2008). Essex Explored: Essex Architecture. Essex County Council. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  • English Heritage. (2007). National Monuments Records: Images of England. Detailed Record, Details for IoE Number: 461758. Retrieved: 2008-02-18.
  • Glynn, Simon. (1998-2006). Penguin Pool London Zoo by Berthold Lubetkin. galinsky. Retrieved 2008-06-17.
  • Jones, Peter. (2006). Ove Arup: Masterbuilder of the Twentieth Century. Yale University Press. ISBN 9780300112962

Further reading

External links


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