Ove Arup exhibition review

Ove Arup

V & A museum, London.

6th October, 2016

I have always been aware of the importance Ove Arup’s philosophy was in construction:  a team construction from the beginning.  In this multi-media exhibition, what was very prominent in all the exhibition spaces was the sketchbook documentation left behind by engineers and architects alike.  The sketches were not all neat and tidy – they were working notebooks not intended as exhibition material yet their importance as idea containers and calculation repositories was beyond doubt.  Most of the space was dedicated to the Sydney Opera House:

Jørn Utson, the original architect whose charcoal drawing  won him the commission.
Photos of the drawings on chalkboards also remain as evidence of the importance of sketching by both engineers and architects.
From chalkboards to computer aided design practice developed to help engineers develop a working model for the structures.
The computers devised to solve the calculation problems for the SOH
Maquette of the interior.
Maquette of the exterior.
Photo of the construction process.

Taken from one of the display labels:

“Ove’s doodles, about 1950 -80: Ove’s witty persona and artistic nature translated into a compulsion for doodling.  Appearing on notebook pages, agenda documents and accompanying his own doggerel, Ove’s spontaneous and playful sketches express the workings of his mind and his lively imagination.”





To transition from doodle to computer design blueprints:






One of the construction bits for the Pompidou Centre, Paris.

One of the most unexpected items in the exhibition was the solar leaf algae façade prototype panels which are photobioreactors. They cultivate live microalgae which create heat and biomass used in buildings.  The algae are harvested every day.  At the exhibition they formed the only living exhibit.



The water, air bubbles  and nutrients constitute the environment for growing algae which, when photosynthesis takes place, produce heat and more micro organisms.

I thoroughly enjoyed the exhibition particularly from the sketchbook perspective.


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