Engineering the World - VandA Museum
On 27 July 2016, Designing Buildings Wiki went along to the Victoria & Albert Museum in South Kensington, London, to have a look round the headline exhibition of their current Engineering Season, ‘Engineering the World: Ove Arup and the Philosophy of Total Design’.
Near the entrance to the exhibition, there is a framed coffee-stained doodle by Arup (see below) of a cartoon figure with labels such as ‘Delight’, ‘Purpose’, ‘Organisation’, and ‘Site Conditions’, that capture the essence of his pioneering ideas about what the modern engineer should encapsulate.
The exhibition includes Arup’s radical designs for improving inadequate air raid shelters during the Second World War, as well as his work on the Mulberry temporary harbours, built to facilitate the rapid offloading of soldiers and cargo, and deployed during the 1944 D-Day landings.
There are also detailed calculation sheets used for the construction of the iconic gravity-defying spiraling concrete ramps for the Penguin Pool at London Zoo; a project which established Arup as a leading consulting engineer.
As interesting as this early insight into Arup’s work is, it is overshadowed by the centrepiece of the exhibition - Arup’s most famous project, the Sydney Opera House.
The exhibition presents models and original sketches that document the journey from concept to structural design to built reality. Also of interest is the grainy 16 mm film footage of a scale model of the Opera House undergoing wind tunnel testing at Teddington’s National Physical Laboratory in 1961.
Of particular note, is the original Pegasus Mark 1 (see below), the first computer to be used for calculations on a building project. This emphasises the epoch-changing time of the mid-20th century of which Arup was a leading figure, the increasing computerisation of industries that appeared to offer a brave new world of technological innovation where anything was achievable.
The exhibition also examines how Arup’s Total Design concept inspired other landmarks buildings of the new high-tech form, most notably the Centre Pompidou by Richard Rogers, and the HSBC Hong Kong Building by Norman Foster (see 1:100 scale model below).
Interestingly, the entire exhibition space itself is contained within a 1:1 scale model of the Centre Pompidou’s garberette beam which made possible the building’s most distinctive design feature – external utilities and services.
Engineering students and professionals should take the opportunity to visit this unique and engaging exhibition, providing as it does a fascinating retrospective of one of the built environment’s most influential and philosophical figures.
‘Engineering the World’ runs at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London until 6 November 2016.
For more information, see V&A.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- 7 Engineering Wonders of the world.
- Bridge Engineering exhibition.
- Burj al Arab, Dubai.
- Centre Pompidou.
- Concept architectural design.
- Dunelm House, Durham.
- Imagine Moscow exhibition.
- Shell roof.
- Structural engineer.
- Sydney Opera House.
- The history of fabric structures.
- The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945.
Featured articles and news
RSHP unveil their involvement in a boundary crossing which will provide a new entry point into Hong Kong.
With PFI currently under the spotlight due to Carillion, this introductory article explains what they are.
Estimates suggest that up to 30,000 small firms could be at risk of non-payment as a result of Carillion's collapse.
Sir Oliver Letwin to lead an independent review into the delays in the delivery of housing.
As Carillion collapses, read our article explaining insolvency in the construction industry.
43,000 jobs at risk as Carillion declares insolvency..
1961 saw the publication of three important books about urban design that remain relevant today.
Next week the planning fee increases by 20% and new fees are introduced.
How the transformative power of BIM and other digital technologies can be used to gain a competitive edge.
Relevant events and relevant matters are terms used in some contracts, but knowing the differences is important.
Government release statistics showing how many people are now on the property ladder due to Help to Buy schemes.