A new bust has been unveiled of Sir Ove Arup on the site of his favourite creation, the grade I listed Kingsgate Bridge in Durham. Sir Ove Arup gained a prestigious international reputation for his involvement in famous projects such as the Sydney Opera House and the Barbican Centre but Kingsgate Bridge, completed in 1963, remained his favourite work.
The original bronze bust of the engineer, created by Diana Bradenburger, was stolen in 2006. The new bust was based on the 1987 original and is cast in resin.
The honour was paid for by Durham University and The City of Durham Trust to mark the engineer’s contribution to both the university and the city. Together with Kingsgate Bridge Sir Ove Arup was involved in the building of the award winning Dunhelm House, which currently houses the Durham Students’ Union.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by friends and former colleagues of Sir Ove Arup together with representatives from the university and the city. Professor Chris Higgins, the Vice-Chancellor of Durham University was joined by Mike King, the DSU President and Douglas Pocock, Honorary Secretary of the City of Durham Trust at the ceremony on the 27th September.
Chris Higgins acknowledged Sir Ove Arup’s love of Kingsgate Bridge, which connects New Elvet to the Peninsula. “Sir Ove Arup is responsible for helping to create some of the world’s most distinctive and memorable buildings so it is highly significant that he held the design of the Kingsgate Bridge as an example of his finest work.”
Douglas Pocock also noted the connection between Kingsgate Bridge and the world-renowned engineer “The City’s distinguished modernist architecture here is to be enriched by the presence of a portrait head of Sir Ove Arup.
“Happily, therefore, as we look up to pay homage to a great man, he appropriately again looks down from Dunelm House to his favourite Kingsgate Bridge.”
Sir Ove Arup was born in 1895 in Newcastle and died in 1988 at the age of 93. He was the founder of one of the world’s largest and most successful civil engineering consulting practices, Ove Arup & Partners. Today the practice consists of over 6,200 employees in more than 50 countries.
ARUP director Jim Burridge, who also attended the unveiling ceremony, said, “Sir Ove Arup espoused engineering excellence and this remains a key component of our work today, here in the UK and across the globe.
“It is fitting that we not only remember but celebrate his influence, innovative approach and his outstanding contribution to design as we continue to espouse those same values around the world.
“We are proud to welcome the new bust of Sir Ove Arup in recognition of his contribution and lasting legacy beside Durham’s Kingsgate Bridge, a fantastic example of innovation, design and construction.”
Sir Ove Arup was closely linked to the notion of ‘total architecture’, which combined both engineering and architecture within the plan of a structure. This idea has been claimed to be the foundation of his love for Kingsgate Bridge, he felt that it was his finest structure which fulfilled that concept.
A public exhibition in the Riverside Café at Dunhelm House will cover the history of Kingsgate Bridge and the DSU building. It will also examine the idea of ‘total architecture’ and its history. The exhibition will run from early October to December.