Heatherwick Studio: 2012 London Olympics Cauldron

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Unless you have been residing on an isolated desert island somewhere, you will obviously know the 2012 London Olympics is currently in full and splendid effect.

Whilst being the father of a 15 month old meant I did not stay up to watch the remarkable Danny Boyle directed opening ceremony, I did thankfully see highlights on the day after. Highlights that included the lighting, and elevating into place of the Olympic Cauldron.

I was instantly drawn in, and ultimately blown away by the incredible piece, firstly as it was lit, then raised into it’s final cauldron position.

Created by designer/sculptor Thomas Heatherwick, the cauldron features 204 petals (each representing a competing nation), which are attached to levered stems that pump natural gas to each petal. the stems gently rise from the ground upwards and converge to form ‘one great flame of unity’ – representative of the transitory togetherness that is embodied in the olympic games.

The petals are copper and the entire structure is about 8.5 metres tall, the rods which make up the stem of the cauldron are made of stainless steel with a heat and acid treatment that makes it a colour called ‘bad black’, which is slightly blue. the cauldron weighs 16 tonnes, far less than the one lit in beijing four years ago, which weighed 300 tonnes.

Heatherwick’s cauldron was ultimately moved within the stadium to where the opening ceremony bell was, a reference to the position of the cauldron at the 1948 london games. at the end of the games, each team will take their petal home and the London 2012 cauldron will cease to exist.

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