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Fabricators sought for iconic Scottish sculpture

Tenders are being invited this month for construction of one of Scotland’s most complex modern sculptures.

30m high structures

Over 7,000 separate steel components will be fabricated into twin 30m high horses’ heads to form the centrepiece of a new £43M urban park near Falkirk.

Named after mythical Celtic water horses, the two £6M Kelpies sculptures took a 20-strong team of structural engineers two years to design.

“Their fabrication and erection will be a significant structural challenge and we are looking for a contractor with the skill and vision to create a complex transparent sculpture destined hopefully to become a major tourist attraction,” said Mike King, programme director for client Helix Trust, a joint venture between British Waterways Scotland, Falkirk Council and Central Scotland Forest Trust.

Flanking new lock

The two horses’ heads − one nodding downward and the other rearing up − were conceived by Scottish artist Andy Scott. They will sit either side of a new lock to be built in the Forth & Clyde Canal bordering the park.

The hollow 300t frame of each horse will be formed from up to 75m long profiled tubular steel columns, bent to shape with short angled link pieces. These will support 42 ribs, each fabricated as a series of horizontal flat plates bolted together to create a circumferential ring.

The horses’ skin will be modelled using 500 stainless steel panels bolted to this rib and column frame.

“With the centre of each horse to be left totally hollow, we had to place all vertical supports and cross bracing close to the skin,” said Felicity Clement, senior structural engineer for consultant Atkins.

The year long contract will be awarded in November and it is expected that it will take up to six months to fabricate all the components; not one of which is exactly the same shape.

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