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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

Raj Patel
  • Raj Patel

    Raj Patel

    Raj Patel

    Americas Region Board Member, Arup Fellow

    Your best solution to date?

    The Unicorn Children’s Theatre. The whole building has environments, acoustics and technical facilities to support cutting edge performances that engage young minds.

    Why is it significant?

    Unicorn put on the first theatre performance I ever saw aged 7, and I haven’t forgotten it! It’s the first purpose built theatre for children and the main theatre is designed specifically to heighten speech intelligibility for young children. It is built on a tight site, sensitive spaces are stacked on top of each other, is close to a busy road and above the London Underground. This required a rigorous integrated design team process ensuring the acoustic criteria were achieved, and did so with minimal use of materials for sustainability.

    Your particular skill?

    Acoustics, audio and visual design. Leading multi-disciplinary design teams on arts and culture projects. Encouraging the client, architect and designers to think from the inside out, to think about the user experience of buildings and hopefully to create environments that will provide life-changing experiences for artists and audiences.


    The ability for the arts to transform life for the better.

    Why Arup?

    Freedom for boundless creativity. Resources to achieve what seems impossible. Working with the best people in the world to do it.

    Anything else?

    I have collaborated with several artists on works that have been shown at venues including the Whitney Museum of American Art, MoMA PS1, Tate Modern and Art Basel.

  • Global Arts and Culture Leader
  • Andrew Nicol

    Andrew Nicol

    Andrew Nicol. Image credit Larry Pitt.

    Your best solution to date?

    Getting 400,000 hollow timber beads to control the acoustic in a unique theatre.

    Why is it significant?

    This was a one-off bespoke design that has never been tried before and despite a few sceptics, we came up with a solution that looked great and sounds fantastic!

    Your particular skill?

    Leading and inspiring a team of some of the cleverest people I know to design and create within the built environment.


    Plenty. I have more enthusiasm today than I have ever had before.

    Why Arup?

    Arup brings together some of the most amazing talent from around the world (under one virtual roof) and allows us to do the things we really enjoy doing. Better still, there is overwhelming support from the firm to do this, which is very unique!

    Anything else?

    The world of design is a place of opportunity. It is our job to explore it.

  • t: +61 (0) 3 9668 5500
  • e:
  • Melbourne [08:48]

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