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Arts and culture

Arup has a strong tradition in designing arts buildings, and the skills to reinvent them for the future.

Our remarkable track record in buildings for arts and culture is amply expressed by the Centre Pompidou, Sydney Opera House and Tate Modern.

Our key achievement – spaces that perform as well as the artists themselves – is less obviously ‘iconic’. Yet our focus on building performance defines our approach, and ensures that we go on shaping arts buildings that are in step with the evolving concerns of artists, audiences and institutions.

Arup works with leading architects to create galleries, museums, libraries and archives, venues of all types for music, dance, opera and drama, and facilities for broadcasting and film production.

A fine balance

Visitor experience, security and object conservation demand equal attention in a museum. For performance spaces, backstage and auditorium must be a holistic unit that works equally for audience, performers and crew.

Arup considers each element of a design as part of cohesive whole to ensure a building’s all-round performance.

This helps us understand daylighting in art galleries as a dramatic design element and a factor in conservation as well as in energy efficiency – an approach that has won acclaim for Arup’s work for the New Acropolis Museum and the Modern Wing at the Art Institute of Chicago. Our holistic approach also equips us to fuse architectural value with acoustic quality, as in the Melbourne Recital Centre.

Seeing the complete picture, we can also craft spaces that fulfil multiple roles, such as the Taipei Performing Arts Centre. Its stage and auditorium spaces adapt to the demands of Taipei’s humid subtropical climate, thanks to the work of Arup’s building physicists.

Rethinking tradition

The challenges addressed here are an industry-wide issue, so the Medieval & Renaissance Galleries project is an important test bed for museums and their movement towards reduced energy use and greater sustainability.

Andrew Lerpiniere, Associate Director, Arup

The future of arts venues will be shaped by institutions that take a long view. Arup is already working with many to find creative solutions to their long-term challenges.

One such client is the Victoria and Albert Museum, who challenged us to balance the conflicting issues of artefact conservation and energy use in their Medieval & Renaissance Galleries. Our strategies, including a passive approach to humidity control that met conservation requirements without refrigeration or humidification, contribute to energy savings for the V&A of at least 30% compared to typical museums. We've followed this approach across a number of projects at the V&A, with the result that the museum has a growing number of low-energy galleries, reducing running costs and contributing to the long-term future of the museum.

We also helped Kings Place find a sustainable commercial model that places a supremely versatile space for performance and events within a mixed-use development. And in our new SkyStudios building for BSkyB, we realised the most sustainable broadcasting building of its type.

Global contact

  • Andrew Lerpiniere
  • UKMEA Arts and Culture Leader

Explore our work

Grand Canal Theatre. Credit: Arup/Ros Kavanagh Photographer.

Project: Grand Canal Theatre

Flexible 2,100-seat theatre with innovative acoustic design.

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Turner Contemporary. Credit Richard Briant/Arcadia Images

Project: Turner Contemporary

Creating a world-class art gallery in an exposed maritime environment.

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A photo of theatre goers listening to a musical performance, featuring a grand piano on stage, inside Milton Court’s Concert Hall. Copyright Morley von Sternberg.

Project: Milton Court

Milton Court is a new venue for the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in London, providing state-of the-art training and concert facilities to almost 900 students.

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