Ove Arup (1895-1988) founded Arup and Partners in 1946 as a firm of consultant structural engineers, based in London. Unhappy with the fragmented way in which the construction industry operated, Arup put forward his idea of 'total design'. It was a vision of a research oriented, experimental and above all collaborative endeavour, which would see architects and engineers working together on a project from its inception. Arup's education influenced this thinking, with a first degree in philosophy and mathematics followed by a brief period of study in architecture and finally a switch to a second degree in engineering.
In 1963 Arup Associates, headed by architect Philip Dowson, was founded as a multi-disciplinary firm that combined architectural, surveying and engineering services. The working method developed at the practice was necessary as it foresaw the increasingly intricate nature of modern construction and new technologies, which could not be mastered by individual professions and so required a new organisational structure based on collaboration and co-operation. Best known for a sequence of buildings in the 1970s that showed a clear integration of structure, skin and services, Arup Associates formed the blueprint for a new type of relationship between architects and engineers that stressed the mutual reliance of the two disciplines and proposed radical changes to the education and training of both architects and engineers. Despite Arup's pioneering example of the benefits of integration, the building trade and its related professions remain largely fragmented.
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Ove Arup, Ove Arup and Partners 1946-1986 (London: Wiley-Academy, 1986).
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Michael Brawne, Arup Associates: The Biography of an Architectural Practice (London: Lund Humphries, 1983).
Timothy H. EngströM, 'Ove Arup: Masterbuilder of the Twentieth Century, by Peter Jones [review]', Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, 66 (2008), 106-109.
Peter Jones, Ove Arup: Master Builder of the Twentieth Century (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2006).
'Ove Arup', Engineering Timelines, http://www.engineering-timelines.com/who/arup_O/arupOve8.asp [accessed 18 May 2010].
"[T]otal Design is not the work of one master-mind or of one
close-knit team which considers all the relevant factors and
reaches decisions in a wise and logical manner according to the
weight be attached to each - on the contrary we find that important
decisions are taken independently by different sets of people, and
are therefore based on a limited number of facts falling within
their particular sphere of interest, and are not related to other
equally relevant facts.
Most of the theoretically avoidable botchery of our environment can be attributed to this lack of integration and artistic control of the Total Design…"
- Ove Arup, 'Architecture is Sick. Should it be Revived?' (Lecture at UCL, London, 2 Jan 1967), pp. 10-11.
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