This project was one of five short-listed schemes in a two-stage, international competition to design the £1.0-million Kelpies Visitor Centre in Edinburgh, Scotland. The competition included the internal layout of one of the two giant, 30-metre-high sculptures of horses’ heads by Scottish figurative sculptor Andy Scott, and the design of a separate complementary visitor hub with retail and interpretation facilities, café, offices and washrooms. The Kelpies forms part of a wider park and canal project known as the “The Helix.”

View from the upper level of the kelpie interior
View from the upper level of the kelpie interior

Our project entitled Delayed Reaction Chamber describes a choreography of public architectural spaces that pace and slow down movement to make more suspenseful the revelation of the powerful scale and texture of the Kelpie and canal experience. The Hub, with its long, covered porch and continuous seating, is a linear perch to view the colossus-like Kelpies. Inside the Kelpie, a celestial experience is revealed slowly. At the ground floor, a giant oculus beckons as visitors are surrounded by the fritted, glass-lined chamber exhibiting famous, giant, local horses and their lore. Rising to the first floor, the insignificant size of the visitor is pit against the vast, sublime and seemingly ominous space of the horse’s head – like Jonah in the whale. Here, the platform is lined with a 27 metre-long cantilevered, warping and sweeping chaise lounge that twists around the space, offering a “stargazing” experience from many viewing positions.

The Hub presents an open-concept porch to the public space, and a dark and solid splaying form to the M9 Roadway – with giant light-slits as a directional vector to the Kelpies. The singular gestural roof is the centerpiece of the retail growth concept and provides a sheltered area for events, retail shoppers and café crowds. The Hub has the opportunity to develop like a market, with flexible space for future retail stands, temporary booths and larger, permanent concessions for food service, gift shopping, and boat and bike rentals.

kelpies-section
Section of the kelpie
kelpies-perspective3
Peeking out at the landscape
kelpies-perspective4
View of the kelpies from the hub forecourt
The Hub from the road
The Hub from the road
kelpies-hub-exploded
Exploded isometric plans and cross-section of the hub

project index

  1. A Conversation of Views
  2. Admiral Road Garden
  3. Airdrie Road Residence
  4. Albany Avenue Residence
  5. Aporia Records
  6. Asphalt Poetry
  7. – Poem
  8. Baby Point Gardens
  9. Beach Village BIA Master Plan
  10. Beaty Residence
  11. Bennington Heights Garden
  12. Berkeley Street Residence
  13. Bin-Scarth Garden
  14. Blink and you miss it.
  15. – Poem
  16. Blue Note
  17. Booth Avenue Residence
  18. Boustrophedon Garden
  19. Braemore Gardens Residence
  20. Browning Avenue Residence
  21. Brunswick Avenue Residence
  22. Camp Arowhon Offices
  23. Canadian Firefighters Memorial
  24. Channelled Buried Moved Lost
  25. Chocolate Loft
  26. City Instrument
  27. Clarendon Garden
  28. Conversation Piece
  29. Creemore Farm
  30. Danforth Mosaic BIA
  31. Dickson Park Garden
  32. Dilworth Residence
  33. Don Landing Revitalization
  34. Dublin Grounds of Remembrance
  35. Dundas Roncesvalles Peace Garden
  36. Dupont-by-the-Castle BIA
  37. East Point Bird Sanctuary
  38. Elizabeth Fry Society
  39. Ellsworth Residence
  40. Face to Face | Tête à Tête
  41. First Avenue Garden
  42. Foote’s Pond Wood
  43. Forest Hill Village Streetscape
  44. Gaze, Glimpse, Glance
  45. Goldring Landscape
  46. Gormley Garden
  47. Greener P
  48. Greer Road Garden
  49. Greer Road Residence
  50. Guelph Bridge
  51. Head in the Clouds
  52. Junction Craft Brewery
  53. Kelpies Competition
  54. Kew Gardens Streetscape
  55. Le jardin du repos
  56. Lenticular Curtain
  57. Liza’s Garden
  58. Lynwood Garden
  59. Macroscape
  60. Markham Garden One
  61. Markham Street Residence Two
  62. Midtown Yonge Streetscape
  63. Nathan Phillips Square
  64. – Streetscape
  65. – Peace Garden
  66. – Podium Roof Garden
  67. Orchard View Garden
  68. Osgoode Atkinson Green Competition
  69. Owl Cottage
  70. Paperstone Scissors
  71. Peripheral Sitings
  72. Pottery Road Crossing
  73. rare
  74. Ravine Forecourt
  75. Ribbon of the Lower Don
  76. Riverside BIA Master Plan
  77. Roxborough Garden One
  78. Roxborough Garden Two
  79. Sheridan College
  80. – Trafalgar Campus Master Plan
  81. Spadina Quay Wetland
  82. Stratford Market Square Competition
  83. Stratford Patterson Theatre Competition
  84. Superlegible
  85. Sweet Farm
  86. Sweet Farm Pond House
  87. The Meadows Reconsidered
  88. The Red Sash
  89. Thick & Thin
  90. Tipping Point
  91. Tranby Garden
  92. Tree House Residence
  93. UTM Welcome Landscape
  94. Venice Biennale 2012
  95. Vermont Square Park
  96. Vernon Avenue Garden
  97. Walmer Road Residence
  98. Wellesley Cottages Garden
  99. Wells Street Residence
  100. Westminster Residence
  101. With Words as Their Actions
  102. Woodlawn Avenue Residence
  103. Woven Stories
  104. York Park