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The Papers of Ove Arup

Reference Code: GBR/0014/ARUP

Scope and Contents

The collection reflects Sir Ove's commitment to his philosophy of "Total design". It was his desire that architects and engineers should work together more closely, so that they could approach the problems of the Built Environment from a united standpoint. The papers fall into 10 sections, and include examples of project work, published articles and architectural plans.


  • Creation: 1904-89

Conditions Governing Use

Researchers wishing to publish excerpts from the papers must obtain prior permission from the copyright holders and should seek advice from Archives Centre staff.

Biographical / Historical

Ove Arup graduated in 1922 from the Royal Technical College in Copenhagen as a Civil Engineer, and accepted a post in Hamburg with Christiani and Nielsen, a Danish firm specialising at that time in maritime projects. Within a year he moved to London and two years later he was promoted to the post of Chief Designer. Arup sections 7 and 8 respectively contain brochures and plans relating to the work of the firm.

In 1933 Arup joined J.L. Kier & Co. as a director and chief designer. The firm was committed to the development of reinforced concrete construction. Arup worked alongside the Tecton Group of Architects led by Berthold Lubetkin, and collaborated with Tecton over various projects including the design for the London Zoo Penguin Pool in Regent's Park.

Arup and a cousin, Arne Arup formed a firm of engineers and contractors, Arup & Arup Ltd in 1938. The approach of war saw Arup turning his attention to a study of rational shelter design -with the aim of achieving maximum protection as economically as possible (see ARUP sections 7 and 8).

By 1945 Arup had moved entirely to consulting work as a structural consultant to architects. He became the founder and senior partner of his firm, Ove Arup & Partners in 1948. The firm grew considerably during the early and mid 1960's, and offices were started up in far-flung locations including Dublin, Edinburgh, Nigeria, Ghana and South Africa.

The subsequent expansion of the firm meant that by the mid 1970's the staff numbered over 2000, operating all over the world. Projects undertaken included the award-winning Sydney Opera House. Ove Arup was involved with this for more than 15 years and worked closely with the architect, Jørn Utzon.

Arup Associates was formed in 1963 as the embodiment of Arup's ideals of professional collaboration of specialists who functioned in small groups, to undertake the total design of buildings.

CURRICULUM VITAE: Born: 1895 (Newcastle upon Tyne) Educated: Preparatory School, Hamburg; Public School, Søro, University of Copenhagen 1914 Degree in Filosofikum; Copenhagen Polytekniske Laereanstalt, 1922 Degree in Engineering, with reinforced concrete as a specialist subject. Married: 1925 Ruth Sørensen (1 son, 2 daughters) Knighted: 1971 Died: 1988

Career: 1922-1923 Designer, Christiani & Nielsen, Hamburg 1923-1925 Designer, Christiani & Nielsen, London 1925-1934 Chief Designer, Christiani & Nielsen, London 1934-1938 Director and Chief Designer, J L Kier & Co, London 1938-1945 Director, Arup Designs Ltd; Arup & Arup Ltd; Pipes Ltd; Consulting Engineer for schools, flats, air raid shelters (for Finsbury Borough Council), industrial projects, marine work (Air Ministry) 1949 Senior Partner, Ove Arup & Partners, Consulting Engineers 1955-1959 Chairman, Society of Danish Civil Engineers in Great Britain and Ireland 1963 Arup Associates

Lectures: 1955 Visiting Lecturer, Harvard University 1968 Maitland Lecture, IStructE 1970 Alfred Bossom Lecture RSA

Honours and Awards: 1963 CBE 1966 RIBA Royal Gold Medal for Architecture 1973 Gold Medal IStructE 1967 Hon DSc Durham 1976 Hon DSc Heriot-Watt University 1979 Hon DSc City University 1967 Hon ScD East Anglia 1974 Hon Dr Tekniske Hojskole, Lyngy, Denmark 1975 Fellow, American Concrete Inst 1965 Commander (First Class) Order of Dannebrog

Publications: Books 1939 "Design, Cost, Construction and Relative Safety of Trench, Surface, Bomb-proof and other Air Raid Shelters", Concrete Publications Ltd. 1941 "Safe Housing in Wartime", Messers Gestetner Ltd. Pamphlets: 1940 "London Shelter Problem" 1944 " Memorandum on box frame construction"

Contributions to technical journals (various dates)


92 archive box(es)

Language of Materials

Multiple languages

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The initial collection of Sir Ove Arup's papers was deposited in the Churchill Archives Centre on behalf of the Arup family and the Ove Arup Partnership in 1989. Additional papers were added in 1990 and 2016.

Related Materials

Churchill Archives Centre also holds papers relating to the Arup Oral History Project (reference GBR/0014/AROH).


The collection was catalogued at Churchill Archives Centre in 1991. The catalogue was revised and updated by Natalie Adams in April 2004. The catalogue was revised again, and converted by Sandra Marsh in September 2006.


Arup, Sir Ove Nyquist, 1895-1988, knight, consulting engineer

2004-04-20 14:16:53.293000+00:00
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Churchill Archives Centre Repository

Churchill Archives Centre
Churchill College
Cambridge Cambridgeshire CB3 0DS United Kingdom
+44 (0)1223 336087