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Steel Horses Stun in Scotland

Friday, July 18, 2014

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Two colossal steel horse sculptures, each 30 meters tall and weighing 300 tons, are standing guard over the new Forth & Clyde Canal extension at the Helix in Falkirk, Scotland.

Designed by sculptor Andy Scott, the statues, called "The Kelpies," are one of the largest equine sculptures in the world and are the largest public artworks in Scotland.

The Kelpies
Photos: Facebook / The Kelpies

Two real Clydesdales sat as models for The Kelpies. The statues opened to the public in April.

The Kelpies were constructed at the Helix, a new park with access to woodlands, wetlands, waterways and recreational space, and opened to the public in April.

990 Unique Steel Plates

The project was initially thought of about eight years before it was actually completed, and the theme of The Kelpies is "mystical water-borne equine creatures," according to the project's website.

The design was based on a tubular steel frame used to create the internal structure, and the structural columns and beams are visible through 990 unique riveted laser cut steel plates that make up the "skin." The manes were made from geometric overlapping slabs of steel.

It took 90 days to assemble the structures, which feature 990 unique riveted steel plates to make the horses' "skin."

Both structures are illuminated inside and out.

"The mythological associations behind the original brief have been absorbed by other sources of inspiration in the creative processes, and the ancient ethereal water spirits have been forged into engineered monuments," said Scott.

Scott said two Clydesdales served as models for the process and the theme of working horses drove the project, as they "are the embodiment of the industrial history of Scotland and the Falkirk/Grangemouth area."

100 Steel Deliveries

The pieces of steel were transported to the Helix in "no fewer than 100 individual deliveries," and the onsite assembly off both structures took 90 days to complete, according to AkzoNobel, whose International protective coatings were used in the project.

The Kelpies were fabricated and assembled under a £5 million contract with SH Structures, specialists in the design, supply and manufacture of complex steel structures.

Each sculpture weighs 300 tons and is 30 meters tall.

Both Kelpies were assembled simultaneously. The pre-painted sections were bolted and welded, then joints were repainted onsite.

Touring the U.S.

One-tenth scale maquettes were also designed to be temporarily exhibited in front of the Field Museum at Grant Park in Chicago, IL, as part of the Chicago Sculpture International Exhibition.

The maquettes have been touring around the U.S., with stops in Bryant Park in New York City and Purdue University, Indiana.


Tagged categories: Design; Project Management; Stainless steel; Steel

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