Jacob’s Ladder at Gibbs Farm

Structural Designer


Client Name

Gerry Judah FRBS


Makarau, New Zealand

Grayson Engineering (2015) Ltd

Structure Design (Auckland)

Cadtec (New Zealand)

David Hartley-Mitchell


A 34m high, 46 tonne sculpture made from 480 lengths of steel stacked one of top of each other. The graceful curve is achieved with straight lengths of steel in combination with precision cutting and assembly. The artist required no visible fixings: this was achieved with a single saddle-shaped looped weld at each of the connections between tubes – an elegant and extremely strong solution. The design used a single CAD model from which STL data for 3D printing of scale models, geometry for finite element analysis, and final cutting instructions were generated in a single-step process. This efficient workflow enabled an iterative process where over 40 different designs were produced and evaluated to finesse the final result.

Judge's comment:

The judges were immediately impressed by the ambition of this sculpture and the powerful impact it has in the landscape. The structural engineering design has been very well integrated into the artistry of the object. Digital design allowed every layer to be of a different size and shape. The assembly into the whole was well conceived and executed to achieve a seamless whole. The structural engineering design is an integral part of the artistry of this sculpture, and provides an excellent example of the value of intelligent structural engineering in the co-creation of art.

Contact us

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7235 4535
Email: [email protected]

Social media


© Copyright 2022 - The Institution of Structural Engineers, 47-58 Bastwick Street, London, EC1V 3PS, United Kingdom
Registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales No. 233392 and in Scotland No. SC038263