Latest news from the Ove Arup Foundation

The Anglo Danish Society – 2017

The Ove Arup Foundation made two awards in 2017 to students who will be carrying out post-graduate studies, both at the Royal Danish Academy for Fine Arts, KADK, in Copenhagen.

Dominic Hoehn – The science of cities: an ethnography of evidence-based approaches to urban design in Denmark

How are future cities designed? What information do urban decision-makers consider, and what does it mean to make design ‘scientific’? The research will examine what ‘evidence-based design’ means in practice in Denmark to contextualise and evaluate the implications of a ‘science of cities’ – especially with reference to the history of urban design and the failures of modernist urban planning.

Jordan McCrae – Just how ‘liveable’ is the world’s most liveable city?

Copenhagen has again been rated the world’s most liveable city, 2016, by Metropolis Magazine. However, the reality for many of its inhabitants is often far from ‘liveable’. Rising property prices, under provision of housing and population growth are leading to both an over-reliance on often crippling mortgages and the social segregation of the city.

Alternative housing development models could provide opportunities to cut out the profit-driven developer and result in better and cheaper housing within the city.

This research and design will also be relevant to the UK context, where a similar crisis is emerging. Thus, the opportunity to learn from and exchange ideas between the two countries is immense.

Generation Place to engage and inspire future place-makers

The Ove Arup Foundation has provided funding for three architecture centres to work toward a new platform to inspire the next generation of creative place-makers.

Generation Place ( is an initiative developed by Architecture Centre Bristol, 22 Sheds and MADE. Its aim is to harness the talents of organisations across the UK that specialise in educating young people about place. These talents will be channelled into a national network of expertise, gathering individual programmes, professionals and organisations from across disciplines to share and encourage best practice.

On launching the initiative at UCL London, Amy Harrison, head of learning and participation at the Architecture Centre Bristol, said: “We need to engage young people in placemaking today to ensure a liveable and vibrant future for our cities.”

Generation Place projects are intended to be flexible, and can take many forms: week-long summer academies; careers-focused design challenges; one-to-one mentoring; city expeditions for schools; or even community live-build projects with young people.

The potential positive effects of Generation Place projects on young people are manifold. They reach such areas as employability and careers insights, political empowerment and active citizenship, and developing creativity, communication skills and confidence.

The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya, India

The Ove Arup Foundation has agreed to provide a grant towards the research of a highly unusual and striking method of engineering. The Living Root Bridges of Meghalaya are unique, woven as they are from the aerial roots of the Indian Rubber Tree (ficus elastica).

Wilfrid Middleton is set to visit Meghalaya to study the bridges, which grow over years to produce spans of remarkable strength able to withstand floods, earthquakes, and use as public highways.

The living bridges provide a chance for great insight into the strength mechanisms of trees, growth for resilience, and engineering for extreme loading. As a symbiosis between human and natural engineering, they provide a vital piece of the puzzle of biomimetics, a crucial tool in 21st century engineering.

Middleton aims to talk to builders, users, owners and maintainers about the design process and their understanding of the growth mechanisms of ficus elastica to provide the basis for engineering research. The work will bring together engineers, architects, botanists, local builders, environmentalists, and explorers.

The project will have five research outputs:

  • The first coherent repository of knowledge in the field.
  • An understanding of the position the bridges hold in their ecosystems and society.
  • Documentation of the building process, to compare with modern techniques, combining trussed arches with cable-stays.
  • Through measurements, a conclusion about the bridge structural systems and the force regimes.
  • We will learn a great deal about earthquake and flood resistance, humidity resistance, optimisation through growth, and self-repair.

Girl’s Garage project to tackle inequality

The Ove Arup Foundation has recently announced support for the Girl’s Garage project, based in Berkeley, California.

The innovative design and building programme offers a pathway for girls aged 9-13 to explore, improve, and apply creative and technical skills through real-world projects.

One of the primary aims of the project is to tackle inequality in architecture, design and the building trade by enrolling and matriculating 72 girls of mixed nationality, mixed race and low income in its one-year, 10-module course.

Course designers hope that students will experience of the power of creativity and making, as well as increased confidence and community leadership skills. There will also be a strand exploring the many possibilities for continued learning and vocation in fields of architecture, engineering and design.

Girl’s Garage has built a community of over 400 girls and family members who are deeply committed to further building and connecting young underprivileged girls to high-level opportunities related to the built environment. It also has strong partnerships with other organisations and educational institutions including the University of California Berkeley College of Environmental Design (where their founder is a professor), IT companies and local design firms.

Third Ove Arup Foundation Lecture at University of Queensland

Professor Christine Ortiz

The third of three Ove Arup Foundation-funded lectures at the University of Queensland, entitled ‘Reinventing the University’, took place in November 2016.

The three-day workshop discussed the topic of ‘Disruptive Models of Engineering Education’. The public lecture and debate was given by Professor Christine Ortiz and was attended by 130 people.

Professor Ortiz described her frustration with the inflexibility of the existing system in the US and her decision to step away to start take on the challenge of creating something new within a highly regulated environment. She believes her challenge is to change the inequality experienced by minority groups to gain truly equitable access to quality education.

Details of her lecture will appear on the University of Queensland website:

The Anglo Danish Society

button_angdanThe Ove Arup Foundation has extended is agreement with the Anglo Danish Society to provide a grant annually for another five years for a post-graduate student to study in the UK or Denmark.

The most recent recipient of the award was PhD student Nicholas Thomas Lee, whose intention was to work on his PhD thesis ‘Dwellscape: The contemporary dwelling interior as a continuation of architectonic space’ at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts.

First ICE academic in residence takes up position

Professor Ian Guymer
Professor Ian Guymer

The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) has appointed its very first academic in residence, with assistance from the Ove Arup Foundation.

Professor Ian Guymer of the University of Warwick takes up the role to focus on projects that trailblaze new civil engineering interventions and work with others to identify and tackle major infrastructure challenges.

The newly-established role springs from ICE’s ‘Shaping the World‘ initiative, which aims to bring together the influential engineers and thinkers to address the key engineering challenges of our time.

Professor Guymer will draw on his experience as joint lead of University of Warwick’s Sustainable Cities Global Research Priority team to engage across the boundaries with other disciplines such as social sciences, economics, planning and computer sciences, and steer the initiative into priority areas such as resilience and innovation.

“It is an honour to be working with ICE to help enhance the impact of our essential global infrastructure,” said Professor Guymer. “While the technology and healthcare sectors have leapt forward into the future – innovating and experimenting – civil engineering has struggled to accelerate its pace of change.

“Climate change and technological innovations are disrupting construction activities around the world, presenting new challenges for civil engineers. To catalyse changes and advancements in the sector, the Shaping the World programme identifies and supports great ideas, nursing them to fruition.”

Design Education CIC Design Camps

The Ove Arup Foundation is providing support for Design Education CIC to run children’s design camps.

Design Education believe that every child in the 21st century should be able to design and make useful products, be they buildings or bicycles. To further that belief, they have been running a range of designing and making educational projects since their founding in 2008.

Consistent with their policy that no child or school should be denied access to these activities, they have always offered reduced rates where finance has been an obstacle to participation.

However, at a typical Design Camp they have to limit the number of assisted places to one or two per workshop in order not to damage the financial viability of the activity. Similarly, to encourage financially challenged schools to run a Design Day, they would like to offer reduced rates to schools with low Pupil Premium budgets.

The outcome of this support will be increased participation in their Design Camps and Design Days by children and schools that might otherwise be unable to join their programmes.

The benefits of engaging in their form of practical designing and hands-on making activities has been demonstrated over a long period of time, with pupils’ attainment raised in a wide range of subjects.

University of Queensland hosts Foundation Lecture

The second of three Ove Arup Foundation-funded lectures at the University of Queensland, entitled ‘The Architect and Engineering Technology’, took place in November 2015.

Video from the lecture has just become available, and are available here.

The lecture focused on the complexity of the relationship between architects and the quickening evolution of engineering technology.

The key speaker was Dr Alan Cheville of the T. Jefferson Miers Chair in Electrical Engineering at Bucknell University. Peter Burnton the Arup Group industry advisor to the Civil Engineering Department of the UofQ introduced The Ove Arup Foundation to the colloquia.

The lecture was part of a series of three held with distinguished speakers. The lectures are the centrepiece of three-day colloquia designed to inform and engage key stakeholders.