Leading British engineering, design and consulting firm Arup has won the 40th annual MacRobert Award, the UK’s biggest prize for engineering innovation. HRH the Duke of Edinburgh presented the team with a £50,000 prize and the solid gold MacRobert Award medal at the Academy Awards Dinner last night (9 June).
The team members sharing the prize are: Project Director Tristram Carfrae, Structural Engineer Mark Arkinstall, Building Modeller Stuart Bull, Sustainability Energy and Façade Engineer Haico Schepers and Fire Engineer Marianne Foley.
The Award is given for Arup’s visionary Beijing Aquatic Centre, known as the Water Cube, and the setting for so many phenomenal swimming events at last summer’s Olympic Games. The project team made revolutionary use of virtual prototyping, which is changing the way both Arup and the building industry approach new projects.
The Water Cube, now providing a legacy in Beijing as an extensive integrated water sports venue, contains leisure, training and competition centres. Conceptually, the Water Cube is an insulated greenhouse made from a lightweight structure based on the geometry of soap bubbles and clad in a space-age plastic material called ETFE. With 22,000 individual pieces and 12,000 joints, the polyhedral space frame is extremely energy-efficient and possibly the most earthquake-resistant building built to date.