Littlehampton Welding Ltd
Littlehampton Welding Ltd
Gerry Judah for Alfa Romeo
The Goodwood Festival of Speed is one of the world’s biggest and most diverse celebrations of the history of motorsport. Featuring famous cars and famous drivers, the festival is an unrivalled social and sporting occasion in the motor racing calendar.
A new sculpture is created for the festival each year and is only on display for three days as the centrepiece of the Festival of Speed. After the Festival it is dismantled and moved to the Goodwood Sculpture Park – where it has a new woodland setting, painted a different colour and without the cars. The result is a permanent installation providing pleasure for years rather than a throwaway item discarded after use.
The innovative display – sponsored by Alfa Romeo to celebrate the company’s centenary – was designed especially for the event by renowned sculptor Gerry Judah. The structure’s design, which is reminiscent of the car giant’s Quadrifoglio badge and the red livery of its racing cars, features an Alfa Romeo P2 (a P2 won the inaugural Automobile World Championship in 1925) and a 2003 8C Competizione. The cradles were designed to suit each car and to have a virtually hidden connection between the car and supporting structure.
Standing at 18.5m high and 25m across, the sculpture is made from 12 tonnes of steel. Although it appears to be 175m of continuous tube twisted into position, it actually consists of 32 precision sections of 323.9mm diameter steel. The steel sections also had to fit together seamlessly first time, with no opportunity for mistakes or second chances.
To succeed as a sculpture, the structure had to be a perfect continuous loop without visible joins or sudden changes in direction. To achieve this, the geometry was created using a 3D CAD variation of an old draughting technique for constructing five- centre masonry arches. This provided visual perfection and allowed the structure to be assembled from 32 fixed radius rolled tubes, in turn this meant the sculpture as a whole was practical to assemble, check and prefabricate.
Even so, several splice connections had to be made on site, for this the steelwork contractor and erector of the sculpture developed an ingenious adjustable bracket that provided alignment, structural integrity, and allowed three-axis adjustment before the sections were finally welding together.
Each of the two loops is nearly 80m of 323.9 CHS and weighs six tonnes, so there needed to be eight additional connections between the tubes where they touch, taking advantage of the way the tubes turn in on themselves to provide self-bracing of the structure as a whole. Each of these connections consists of a 125mm diameter bar completely concealed and inserted. The setting out of the holes for these pins was a critical part of the workshop fabrication. In order to get the pins through the pre-drilled holes in the tubes, a screw-on point was used so the pin became a giant drift.
The final result is a monumental sculpture consisting entirely of what appears to be two perfectly seamless lengths of steel tied into a huge bow by a giant.
The structure could only possibly have been made from steel – nothing else provides the strength, durability, flexibility and simplicity of construction to go from final design approval to finished structure in less than three months.
In spite of its striking doubly-curved appearance, this ingenious steelwork sculpture is actually formed of singly-curved tubular sections. Temporary bolted connections were removed when the high quality welded joints were completed.
Excellent fabrication and accurate erection have created a seamless shape in the sky. A tribute to the finesse achievable with steelwork.