Kelpies gallop to victory in Saltire Civil Engineering Awards

The world renowned Helix Development in Falkirk has won the Saltire Society 2014 Civil Engineering Award.

Presented in association with Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) Scotland at a special ceremony at the National Museum of Scotland, the award saw The Helix Development beat off competition from other well-known projects such as the SSE Hydro in Glasgow and the Kessock Bridge refurbishment in Inverness.

Transforming a 300-hectare site from disused scrubland into a modern urban green space connecting 26 communities with 27km of pathways, The Helix is completed by Andy Scott’s iconic Kelpie sculptures. The awe inspiring project comprises a new 800m access road and 75 space car park, a Greenspace Park; and a 1km extension to the Forth and Clyde canal – which included the creation of an inland lock and a tidal sea lock, as well as two mechanical moving bridges and two static bridges.

Since its opening in April 2014, The Helix Development has attracted an estimated 500,000 visitors, equivalent to between 3000 and 4000 a day.

(Far left) Geoff French, President, Institution of Civil Engineers and (Far right) Gordon Pomphrey, Convener of the Saltire Society Civil Engineering Awards Panel with members of the winning Helix Development project team (Sculptor Andy Scott pictured third from left)
(Far left) Geoff French, President, Institution of Civil Engineers and (Far right) Gordon Pomphrey, Convener of the Saltire Society Civil Engineering Awards Panel with members of the winning Helix Development project team (Sculptor Andy Scott pictured third from left)

Five runners up also received Commendations for outstanding engineering in this year’s Awards. They were:

  • Dounreay Low Level Waste for its ‘Engineered containment’, a project exemplifying the role of the engineers in delivering safe and environmentally effective solutions to create Scotland’s first low-level radioactive waste facility.
  • SSE Hydro, Scotland’s largest indoor entertainment venue, recently ranked the 3rdbusiest music venue in the world and was a key venue for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. The striking aesthetic was created by engineers, the facade incorporating unique translucent cushions, originally developed for the space industry. This allows natural light to illuminate the foyers during the day and for the arena to ‘glow’ at night.
  • Waverley Station for its £100M, 3½ year refurbishment programme which has included the reconstruction of the roof, renewal of concourses and platforms, upgrade of station utilities and facilities and platform drainage improvements. All of this has been undertaken while the station was fully operational without disruption to train services.
  • Shore Road Bridge Reconstruction in Stirling, a major element in the £80m advance clearance works for National Rail’s £650m Edinburgh to Glasgow Improvement Programme (EGIP). Due to road levels and proximity to the nearby station, there were limited design options which resulted in the use of a highly specialist lightweight concrete able to provide the required strength whilst not significantly increasing the load on the foundations.

  • Glentarken Bridge. Before its construction, walkers and cyclists taking the Glen Tarken Way on the dismantled railway track from Strathfillan to Lochearnhead were forced to take a detour via a busy main road. The new Bailey bridge, spans 33m and constructed across the a deep gorge formed by the burn some 40 metres below now eliminates the detour. The new structure mirrors the trusses of the old railway bridge which was removed after the line closed in 1951 and thoughtful design has ensured it sits well in a beautiful natural environment.
  • Commenting on the Civil Engineering Award and Commendations’ selections, Convenor of the Awards Panel, Gordon Pomphrey said: “The Adjudication Panel had no hesitation in recommending The Helix Development for the overall Saltire Civil Engineering Award 2014. In particular I feel it merits award in the Project, Design & Construction Categories. The Project involved a wide range of stakeholders from its conception and throughout the design process and provided regeneration to the area resulting in tangible benefits to the environment, local community and economy.

    “There is no doubt that the Kelpies have quickly become another iconic must see visitor attraction and will be an internationally recognised landmark for many years to come.”

    “Congratulations must also go to the five commended projects, each one outstanding in what it has been able to achieve, brilliantly demonstrating civil engineering in Scotland at its best.”

    Andy Scott said: “I’m blown away. It’s such an esteemed organisation and to be up against such incredible competition, I’m so thrilled on behalf of everybody involved, it’s been an amazing year.”

    Jim Tough, executive director of the Saltire Society, added: “The Saltire Society Civil Engineering Awards has a longstanding tradition of recognising and celebrating the very best in Scottish Civil Engineering, and 2014 has been no exception.

    “In what has been a hugely important year for Scotland we have seen engineering feats like SSE Hydro, Waverley Station and, of course, The Helix Development help to draw huge crowds from home and abroad cementing their legacy as icons of Scottish engineering.”


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