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Buro Happold

Buro Happold is a professional services firm providing engineering consultancy, design, planning, project management and consulting services for all aspects of buildings, infrastructure and the environment. It was founded in 1976, by Sir Edmund Happold in Bath in the southwest of England when he left Ove Arup and Partners to take up a post at Bath University as Professor of Architecture and Engineering Design.

Originally working mainly on projects in the Middle East, the firm now operates worldwide and in almost all areas of engineering for the built environment, with offices in seven countries. The parent company owns the subsidiary companies Happold Consulting, Happold Media and Happold Safe and Secure. The firm includes a number of specialist engineering consultancy groups.

Sir Edmund Happold

Edmund, or Ted, Happold worked at Arup before founding Buro Happold, where he worked on projects such as the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre. Ted Happold was a leader in the field of lightweight and tensile structures and Buro Happold has as a result undertaken a large number of tensile and other lightweight structures since its founding, including the Millennium Dome. Ted Happold died in 1996, but the firm claims to maintain his views on engineering and life.


Buro Happold was founded on 1 May 1976, with its first office on Gay Street in Bath, United Kingdom. The firm started with seven partners:

The King's Office, Council of Ministers and Majlis Al Shura (KOCOMMAS), Central Government Complex in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia was the firm's first major design project in 1976. Initially, Buro Happold offered only structural engineering consultancy, with a particular strength in lightweight structures, but in 1977 it added civil engineering and geotechnical engineering and in 1978 building services engineering. In 1982 Buro Happold started to work with Future Tents Ltd (FTL) on a variety of temporary and recreational structures. The firms combined their operations in 1992, but split again in 1997.

In 1983, Buro Happold opened an office in Riyadh, and has since opened offices around the UK and internationally:

By 1993, Buro Happold had 130 employees and 8 partners. In 1998 this had grown to 300 employees and 12 partners, while in 2000 with over 500 employees the partnership was increased to 23. In 2006 the partnership stood at 25 with over 1400 employees and 14 offices. Due to this growth and the addition of so many different services, the company was restructured in 2003 to consist of multi-disciplinary teams of engineers, each with structural, mechanical and electrical engineers supported by specialist consulting groups.

In 2005, Buro Happold launched Happold Consulting, a management and overseas development consultancy with expertise in the construction sector, and Happold Media, a subsidiary offering graphic design and media development services. In 2007, Buro Happold launched Safe and Secure, a subsidiary offering security consultancy and design services. The firm now places over 100 distinct different services under the headings:

Significant amongst its specialist consultancy services are its fire consultancy group, FEDRA, and software development group SMART which worked with Sheffield University to develop Vulcan software, widely used throughout the fire engineering industry. SMART also develops Buro Happold's in-house software Tensyl, a non-linear finite element analysis and patterning program for fabric structures, and people flow modelling software. Also notable is its group COSA, which undertakes computational modelling and analysis and the Sustainability and Alternative Technologies Group.

In 2007 Buro Happold became a limited liability partnership, and in 2008 appointed 18 new partners.


The firm is a limited liability partnership with 44 partners.


Lightweight structures

In 1973, before the founding of Buro Happold, Edmund Happold, Ian Liddell, Vera Straka, Peter Rice and Michael Dickson established a lightweight structures research laboratory corresponding to Frei Otto's similar research institute at the university of Stuttgart. Ted Happold was the first to introduce ethylenetetrafluoroethylene (ETFE) as a cladding material, and the outcomes of the research carried out by the laboratory led to the development of the designs for the Mannheim Multihall gridshell and a number of landmark fabric structures in the Middle East and the UK, allowing the new building forms to become generally accepted by architects and clients.

Buro Happold's early projects ranged from designing giant fabric umbrellas for Pink Floyd concerts to the Munich Aviary and the Mannheim Multihalle, both with Frei Otto, an architect who repeatedly worked with Buro Happold on projects which pioneered lightweight structures. The Mannheim Multihalle was a timber gridshell of 50 by 50 mm lathes of hemlock of irregular form, depending on the elasticity of spring washers at the joints for its flexible form. It was one of the first major uses of structural gridshells.

Following the development of fabric structures expertise on the projects with Frei Otto, Buro Happold was instrumental in further developing the knowledge and technology of fabric structures. With Bodo Rasch, a protégé of Frei Otto, and drawing on experience from the Pink Floyd canopies, they designed folding, umbrella-like canopies to shade the courtyard of Al-Masjid al-Nabawi (The Mosque of the Prophet) in Medina, Saudi Arabia. They also designed the, at the time, largest fabric canopy in Europe at the Ashford Designer Outlet in the UK.

This development of fabric structures expertise culminated in Buro Happold, with a team led by Ian Liddell, and with Paul Westbury, designing the Millennium Dome, the world's largest fabric roof and the first building of its type. The expertise in wooden gridshell structures has resulted in the design of structures such as the Weald and Downland Museum and the Savill Building in Windsor Great Park.

Buro Happold has also completed the designs of a number of cardboard structures, notably the Japan Pavilion for Expo 2000 in Hanover with Shigeru Ban and Frei Otto, consisting of a gridshell of paper tubes (the structure was reinforced with steel in order to comply with fire regulations, though the tubular structure was itself structurally sufficient). The firm has worked with Shigeru Ban on a number of other projects. Another design in cardboard was the Westborough School cardboard classroom in Westcliff.

Notable projects in the UK


In Progress

Notable international projects


In Progress

Other significant activities

Buro Happold is best known for providing engineering services for buildings, but it also undertakes a large proportion of its work in civil, geotechnical and environmental engineering, and an increasing amount of overseas development work. Buro Happold is a member of the Consortium for the Eradication of Poverty, which also includes Arup, Scott Wilson and RedR-IHE

Buro Happold is part of the consortium (EDAW) appointed to design the Olympic Park for the London 2012 Olympics. The team which built the Emirates Stadium, made up of McAlpine, HOK Sport + Venue + Event and Buro Happold is also designing and constructing the Olympic Stadium.


Notable awards

Buro Happold won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for Tuwaiq Palace in Riyadh in 1998. Buro Happold also won the Queen's Award for Enterprise twice, for export achievement and again for sustainable development. In 1999 Buro Happold engineers Ian Liddell, Paul Westbury, Dawood Pandor and technician Gary Dagger won the Royal Academy of Engineering's MacRobert Award for their design of the Millennium Dome - only the second time in the award's history that it has gone to a construction project. Buro Happold received the accompanying gold medal. In 2007, Buro Happold won the IStructE Supreme Award for the Savill Building in Windsor Great Park. Buro Happold was the second firm in the world to achieve worldwide Investors in People accreditation.

Stirling Prize winning projects

Buro Happold's projects have won two RIBA Stirling Prizes: the Media Centre at Lord's Cricket Ground in 1999 and the Magna Science Adventure Centre in Rotherham in 2001. Additionally the Evelina Children's Hospital won the public vote for the Stirling Prize in 2006. The following Buro Happold projects have been shortlisted for the Stirling Prize:

Recent awards

At the 2007 Building Awards, Buro Happold won the Engineering Consultant of the Year award, while the Emirates Stadium won the Project of the Year award. Other Buro Happold projects shortlisted for the same award were the new terminal building at Farnborough Airfield and the Savill Building, which was highly commended. At the 2007 Structural Awards, Buro Happold won awards for the Emirates Stadium, the Savill Building and Dresden Main Station. Buro Happold won the Building Services Project of the Year Award 2007 for Perth Concert Hall, in Perth.

Happold Trust

The Happold Trust was founded in 1995 by Ted Happold and the other founding partners in order to promote education, research and training in the fields of engineering, industry, design, technology and architecture. The Happold Trust is a patron of Registered Engineers for Disaster Relief (RedR-IHE) and a co-sponsor of the planned Dyson Academy in Bath. The Happold Trust is also a major sponsor of Engineers Without Borders UK

External links

See also


  • Rappaport, Nina (2007). Support and Resist. London: The Monacelli Press. ISBN 978-1-58093-187-8.
  • Walker, Derek (1998). The Confidence to Build. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 0419240608.


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