Equine art on an enormous scale


SSH Structures was looking for suitable cladding for a huge artwork located in central Scotland’s harsh weather conditions.


Austenitic Outokumpu Supra stainless steel was chosen as the optimal material for the demanding project, which included laser cutting and delivering of nearly one thousand individual platelets.


Steel grade: Outokumpu Supra 316L

A gigantic piece of public art, The Kelpies, attracts visitors in Helix Park, Scotland. These beautiful horse heads, inspired by mythical water horses and mighty workhorse, have a skin of stainless.

A gigantic piece of public art sits by the Forth & Clyde canal in Scotland. The Kelpies, the world’s largest equine sculpture, attracts visitors and photographers with its two impressive horse heads. These beautiful creatures, inspired by mythical water horses and mighty workhorses, are cladded with nearly one thousand platelets of stainless steel.

Designed by local sculptor Andy Scott, the two 30-meter-high horse heads were completed in 2014 to form the centerpiece of Helix Park, a new recreational complex near Falkirk. Each of the giant gleaming heads weighs more than 300 tons.


Giant puzzle

The Kelpies are clad with more than 900 individual stainless platelets manufactured, cut and processed by Outokumpu. Because of the harsh weather conditions, stainless steel was the obvious choice as the “skin” of the artwork. Outokumpu recommended using Supra 316L stainless grade for the project. The material would not only resolve the structural and corrosion issues, but provide the desired aesthetics and prevent the risk of glare.

Capability to manage the demanding process was one of the key considerations for the project’s steel construction contractors SH Structures, who collaborated closely with Outokumpu. “Not only could Outokumpu supply the optimal material, but they also had the facility to laser cut the panels, and the logistical capacity to meet our schedule and deliver the completed panels direct to the site in Scotland,” says Tim Burton, SH Structures Sales & Marketing Manager.


Scotland’s National Treasure

Since the opening in April 2104, Kelpies have become one of the most visited tourist attractions in Scotland and an iconic must-see Scottish landmark listed alongside the likes of Edinburgh Castle. More than half a million visitors per year come to marvel the equine artwork.

The Kelpies project has also attracted a range of awards, including BBC Countryfiles ‘Landmark of the year’ and ‘Scotland’s National Treasure’, the Scottish Saltire Award and a Structural Steel Design Award. With its stainless steel “skin”, the sculptures will stay beautiful for decades ahead.

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