Engineering The World, V&A
The exhibition is the first major retrospective on the life and work of Ove Arup, the most influential engineer of the 20th Century. ‘Engineering the World’ gives the visitor insight into how Ove’s philosophy of ‘Total Design’ helped make possible some of the world’s most iconic buildings.
The exhibition brings to light the creative design process and scientific artefacts behind the engineering of buildings such as the Sydney Opera House and the Centre Pompidou in Paris, to recent projects such as Crossrail and the latest cutting-edge experiments by Arup Associates, revealing creativity and playfulness in a discipline that is as much mathematical and scientific as it is intuitive and poetic.
The exhibition spanning almost 100 years, includes Arup’s collaboration with leading architects such as Berthold Lubetkin, Renzo Piano, Richard Rogers and Norman Foster.
Celebrating the byproduct of the collaborative design process and philosophy championed by Ove Arup, the exhibition brings together doodles, test models, measuring tools, calculation sheets, prototypes and simulation devices from various disciplines. They are displayed as process objects in a raw and purely functional environment, resulting in an atmosphere which is more evocative of a design ‘lab’ than a gallery space.
A freestanding temporary structure is built inside the Porter Gallery space for the first time, introducing circulation spaces over two levels offering elevated viewpoints across the entire gallery, four different types of display areas and an inner open-plan space.
The structure or ‘kit of parts’ is an appropriation of an industrial shelving product, reduced to it’s most elemental components it is used here as the framework for the exhibition display. Cross bracing elements in galvanised steel punctuate the display while structural frames are finished in primary red, reminiscent of the primary colour coding of the exposed servicing and structural elements of the Pompidou Centre’s façade.
The modular shelving system can be re-configured for the touring exhibition and is expected to go back to it’s original purpose as a storage system after the show.