Following its original inception in 2007 by the sculptor, Andy Scott, the design and erection of The Kelpies required a dedicated team of leading consultants and specialists to bring this new Scottish landmark to fruition. The project was several years in the making during which time a significant effort was devoted to detailed design, planning and creating a bespoke engineering solution, whilst preserving the artist’s vision for the sculptures. Of the many technical issues this project presented, the fastening of the external stainless steel skin plates to the primary steel support structure was particularly challenging, due to the different shaped cladding panels and meeting the performance specification as prescribed by the project team.
Specialist Steel Fabricator and Principal Contractor for The Kelpies, S H Structures Ltd, contacted Geocel and Dow to identify an appropriate system for fixation of the 0.9mm thick external skin plates, which were comprised of over 100 different shapes and dimensions to replicate the original design aspects of manes of the sculptured horses’ heads. Dow proposed the use of silicone bonding with high strength DOWSIL™ 896 PanelFix in combination with the mechanical fixation. This allowed each of the 316 plates to be quickly and securely fastened, preventing vibration and accommodating dynamic wind loads which can give rise to vertical motion, creating oscillations in any direction. The use of DOWSIL™ 896 also enabled the curved sections of the panels to be securely fixed to the sub structure. The panels were installed and bonded by S H Structures using a specific joint detail which was specified by Dow, who conducted a series of calculations prior to recommending a universal design for the adhesive application.