The Penguin Pool

The Penguin Pool is Arup's global creative events series designed to inform, inspire and entertain.

The series takes its name from Arup's first project - the Penguin Pool at London Zoo. It was a brave solution that introduced us to the design world back in 1935.

With these events, held all over the world, Arup aims to encourage new connections and seed future collaborations across the design community. To date we have hosted Penguin Pool nights in Beijing, Cape Town, Dublin, Hong Kong, London, Manchester, Melbourne, Milan, New York, San Francisco, Shanghai, Singapore, Sydney (where it began) and Toronto.

Watch this space for more details of our forthcoming events and follow @ThePenguinPool on Twitter for information on our emerging plans.

Recent events:

Berlin - 25 June 2015

Berlin’s Penguin Pool is focused around the theme "Resource City". The urban age that we find ourselves in is defined as much by ecological awareness as it is by technological progress. Current environmental and demographic shifts make it difficult to escape the metabolic nature of the cities we live in. Whether it's urban farming, car sharing or composting, city dwellers are increasingly interested in understanding resources and supporting full-cycle processes.

Where do our urban resources actually come from and where do they really go? More than ever, people are informed and personally invested in the origin and final destination of their intake and output, whether it related to construction, foodstuff or data. Resource City will showcase creative interpretations and inventive solutions that deal with the complexity of urban resources.

Amsterdam - 25 November 2014

Our second Amsterdam Penguin Pool focused on getting back to basics and the concept of ‘do it yourself’. There was a selection of short workshops and lectures on the night, as well as healthy and tasty food with a difference. A surprise guest discussed their thoughts on how with the right training and exercise you can strengthen yourself inside and out; plus live music from Radio Barkas.

Melbourne - 19 September 2014

'Reimagining Melbourne - Solutions for our City Partnering with Federation Square'.
The Melbourne Penguin Pool asked artists to consider alternatives to some of the challenges of life in a city like Melbourne.

Johannesburg – 27 March 2014

The Johannesburg Penguin Pool formed part of a series of events that celebrated 60 years of Arup in Africa. Through the event, we have commemorated the anniversary with a theme that captures origins, the desire to create and design with purpose – all placed within a distinctly African context. At the event, activities revolved around the use of clay in design - from the beginning of man’s need to create, leaning on anthropological insight and involving the audience in the use of clay.

Singapore - 20 March 2014

'Draw to a conclusion' - ask most people to explain an idea and they will reach for a pencil and an old envelope and start scribbling whilst they talk, or at least they used to. In the virtual world in which we now live, with the hyper-real computer-based drawing and visualisation techniques, does the simple hand-sketch have a role? We certainly think so and so do many people we collaborate with. This event explored sketching as a medium to transmit and develop ideas in the worlds of fashion, culinary arts, design and engineering.

Hong Kong – 5 December 2013

‘Through a Lens – Rediscovering Hong Kong’s Soul” was the theme of our 3rd Penguin Pool in Hong Kong. The two speakers, Michael Wolf, photo-journalist-turned-artist, and Kacey Wong, architect-turned artist, shared their passion for arts, photography and everything about Hong Kong. Throughout the evening, guests joined in the passionate discussion about arts, Hong Kong and discovering and appreciating ones past, present and future.

Amsterdam – 26 September 2013

The first Amsterdam Penguin Pool revolved around ‘Senses’. Our interaction with the world depends on our senses, but today we often rely on one sense: our sight. Emerging designers and creative professionals stimulated our forgotten senses in alternative ways. Activities included an intro to neuroscience (Devika Narain), a disorienting experience in the Sound Illusion Cube (Thijs Eerens), taste and smell workshops (Sfeercateraar Hééérlijk, Annindriya), neuromapping (Mindfree), alternative exiting design methods (Michiel van der Kley), live music (Basterdsuiker) and more.

Melbourne – 24 September 2013

Our Melbourne office hosted its third Penguin Pool Event on ‘Digital media in the public realm’. Presenters shared their stories around how digital media can change and engage public opinions and, at times, even behaviors. Speakers included: Adrian Mills, former Group Account Director at McCANN, on the successful Metro Trains campaign ‘Dumb Ways to Die’; founder of OOM Creative, Greg More on the ‘Visualising the Urban Forest’ project for the City of Melbourne; and Australian Research Council Fellow and Director, Jon McCormack, on recent works commissioned for the Arts Electronica, including Fifty Sisters and Codeform. The event included videos from the evening that were curated by Artbox, a social enterprise dedicated to addressing artist poverty and Pause Fest, a springboard for creative industries that operates within the digital realm to meet, inspire, learn, launch and collaborate.

London – 16 September 2013

This London Penguin Pool event coincided with the London Design Festival, featuring guest speaker furniture and lighting designer David Trubridge. The talk discussed the global exploitation of nature and how the wild has become a relentless juggernaut. Throughout our 100,000 year history, art has played a vital role in reconnecting us with nature and providing social cohesion to overcome threats. Based on his personal experiences in the wild, David Trubridge offered his views on this role, and how creativity relates to the way our brains operate.

London – 28 May 2013

Our latest London Penguin Pool revolved around landscape and nature. Dan Pearson gave an inspiring talk about his beautiful Millennium Forest in Japan, and while the uplifting sound of ‘More Like Trees’ filled the atrium, alternative food company ENTO gave us a peek in what the future of food looks like according to them. The Arup SoundLab formed a refuge from the crowd offering meditation sessions with soothing sounds of nature playing in the background.

Melbourne – 19 March 2013

Our second Penguin Pool in Melbourne was all about ‘pop up’ design and spontaneity. Taking over the office front lawn with creative chaos, it featured an impromptu choir, performance art and “genome” networking, collage and crafting. A jam-packed night of phenomenal pop-up design and art pieces, in which guests could take part or stand back and talk and observe as we transformed a tranquil garden into a pop up festival experience.

Toronto – 7 March 2013

Our first ever session in Canada was a lively, interactive, insightful night focused on play and how it can inform and inspire the design process: How does play help us solve problems? How can we use play to spark creativity? How do games help us be better designers? The discussion panel, chaired by Arup’s Matt Browning, included Kate Hartman, Assistant Professor, Digital Futures Initiative at OCAD; Zahra Ebrahim, Principal and Founder archiTEXT; Mark Argo Founder of Aesthetec studio and Patrick Redding, Game Director from Ubisoft Toronto.

Cape Town – 28 February 2013

Our debut event in South Africa explored the secret life of objects, featuring and inspired by Brad Baard, Creative Director and Designer for the Cape Town Carnival. It delivered colourful spectacle and lots of surprises including sandpit creativity, a giant crocodile head and a man-sized dancing praying mantis!

Hong Kong – 4 December 2012

Our second night in Hong Kong focused on food. It was a journey for the senses and the soul, from seed to plate, with engineer-turned-Michelin-starred-chef Alvin Leung (Bo Innovation); designer-turned-chef Margaret Xu (Yin Yang); (IHM co-founder) Todd Darling and chef Vincent Lauria; and (Grassroots Pantry owner) Peggy Chan.

Dublin – 27 November 2012

Our first Penguin Pool event in Ireland featured a presentation from inspirational Irish furniture designer Joseph Walsh.

Manchester – 14 November 2012

Senses + design + creativity: featured Professor Trevor Cox on sound exploring and Victoria Henshaw on the power of smell in urban design, installations by Liam Hopkins of Lazerian design studio, sensory food, and live music.

Stay informed

Follow us on Twitter: @thepenguinpool  |  hashtag #ArupPP


  • Penguin pool - Arup's global creative events series designed to inform, inspire and entertain.

    Global creative events series designed to inform, inspire and entertain.