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Barnshaws enables visitors to ride new ArcelorMittal Orbit helter-skelter

04 April 2016

Barnshaws’ Hamilton Branch was contracted to help produce a complex staircase to provide visitors access to the top of the freeform skeletal structure.

One of the defining structures of the London 2012 Olympics, the ArcelorMittal Orbit reaches 115m into the London skyline around Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Designed by Sir Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, the famous landmark is now incorporating a 584ft long helter-skelter to provide visitors with a view of the capital’s landmarks. Set to be the world’s largest tunnel slide, riders will be able to reach the heights of the structure thanks to the metal bending expertise of Barnshaws Section Benders Scottish Division.

When the structure was erected in 2012, Barnshaws’ Hamilton Branch was contracted to help produce the complex staircase to provide visitors access to the top of the freeform skeletal structure. Due to the design peculiarities of the sculpture, the staircase required numerous sections of varying lengths and curves to achieve the desired effect. 

Due to the great variance of sections required to fabricate the staircase, months of testing time was needed to guarantee the correct specification of section and that the spiralling applied to the sections was accurate. Each section was required to be mandrel spiralled, a new process developed by Barnshaws, with each particular section displaying varying length and spiral attributes. Due to the complicated nature of the process and variety of sections, it was vital to ensure that every piece of each particular module was of the highest quality. Barnshaws Hamilton Branch enabled this via consistent quality checks to appropriate execution class and meticulous in-house research.

The structure was initially opened as a centre piece attraction for the London 2012 Olympic Games, before being closed for its redevelopment into a public space, reopening to the public on 5th April 2014. A structure that combines structural rigidity with sculptural instability, the spiral stair case ensures visitors can enjoy all facets of the sculpture and its views of the London cityscape. Despite the ArcelorMittal Orbit’s somewhat unstable appearance, those afraid of heights can rely on Barnshaws metal expertise to provide the confidence to make it to the top.


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