The Kelpies is a public sculpture, an engineering feat and the centerpiece to the recreation area Helix project in Falkirk, Scotland.  This massive structure includes two majestic water horse heads which each stand 30 meters high and comprise of 300 tons of structural steel each.  They form a dramatic gateway at the eastern entrance to the Forth and Clyde canal, and the new canal extension.  

Kelpies at nights

The Kelpies are a monument to horse powered heritage across Scotland and were the concept of Glasgow born sculptor Andy Scott, who, from presenting original concept drawings, went on to produce two sets of 1/10th scale mock-ups or maquettes, which were used as the basis of the final piece produced by SH Structures.  SH Structures completed the construction of this massive structure in just 90 days and was able to save the project scheme in excess of £750K.  SH Structures was the Public Choice Winner for the 2013 Tekla UK BIM Awards.  

Realizing artist’s vision 

From the outset SH Structures worked very closely with the client’s team and the sculptor Andy Scott to ensure that the original aesthetics of the two horses heads remained as close to those of the 1/10th scale models produced. This had to be achieved while maintaining a structural design that would satisfy the loads imposed on these 30m high structures. The horses’ heads by their nature are complex forms and the ability to accurately develop a 3d model using Tekla Structures played an important part in the development of this technically challenging project. Turning the 3D model into fabricated steel sections that could be delivered and safely erected on site formed the next challenge. SH Structures extensive experience of off-site manufacture and trial assembly of large sections ensuring first time fit on site was brought into play very early on.

Having a client with a clear vision and an artist who was supportive throughout the project was essential to the project’s overall success. The close working relationship with the team enabled the many challenges to be tackled and problems overcome with the minimum of effort. After a rigorous prequalification and tender process SH Structures secured this major project on a design and build basis. With tenders coming in over budget SH Structures undertook to redesign the internal support structure and as a result were able to generate significant savings for the client in the order of £750,000 allowing the project to proceed through to completion.


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Students there are amazing structures all around you.  Composed of multiple materials like steel, concrete, and timber.  Have you explored these structures?  Have you dreamed of your own creation?  How will you leave you mark on society?  Just like many structural engineers, contractors, architects, and civil engineers before you, they all had a dream to make the world more beautiful.  Start building your future.  As students you have access  to steel structural design software for free.  Download your personal edition today via Tekla Campus.  

Students be inspired by structures like this.  Dive into a case study and learn more about the structures that impact our society.  Steel Structures are art too, what will you create.

Next Steps:  Steel structure design software free download.  Download your personal edition today.

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