~ Heatherwick Studio// Olympic Cauldron 2012

I think you can't have an olympics held in London without a mention of the spectacular cauldron designed by Heatherwick Studio for the Olympic opening ceremony 2012.  The beauty of the design is in it's concept & as always with the Heatherwick Studio, excellent execution. It also turns out that the design has been in plain sight prior to it's unveiling on wallets for the tickets to the opening ceremony. Designed and concieved as a moment rather than an object, transcending all it's predecessors. The Gold goes to Thomas Heatherwick for sheer inventiveness, creativity & originality, inspiring us all before the games began!

The Olympic Cauldron consists of 204 copper petal-like mini-cauldrons, each representing one of the participating nations. Each copper 'petal'  was brought into the stadium by a child from each nation represented as part of the athletes’ procession. The 'petals' are attached to levered stems that pump natural gas to each 'petal'. In the climax of the ceremony, the stems gently rise from the ground upwards in a carefully choreographed movement,  the geometry of which was carefully ‘scripted’ to rise in a motion that converges the stems into a coherent whole to form 'one great flame of unity' - representative of the peaceful coming together of the different nations for the olympic games.
The cauldron was developed at the Heatherwick Studio in Kings Cross, London, which Thomas Heatherwick founded in 1994 with the aim of 'bringing architecture, design and sculpture together within a single practice'.
'Nothing has been harder than designing for the Olympics. It is the most public moment one can ever be involved in. I am humbled and excited, and above all very proud to have played a part in this significant moment for Great Britain.'Thomas Heatherwick
'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.'
daily mail
The brief, he told me, was ‘no moving parts’ but in the final product every part moves. The 16-tonne cauldron is formed on eight steel rings to which 8.5m-tall stainless steel stems are mounted. The 'petals' are each engraved with the name of a country and each has a unique geometry. Why? I asked. ‘Because each country is different,’ he smiled. What we should value is the grit and persistence of the two years it took to get to that superb moment. He wasn’t just designing a cauldron, he was rewriting the possibilities of design. Hanif Kara of engineers AKT II Architects Journal

'We were aware cauldrons had been getting bigger, higher, fatter as each Olympics happened and we felt we shouldn't try to be even bigger than the last ones. This incredible event has 204 nations coming together, so we had a child from each country bringing these copper polished objects in.
At the end of the Games, this cauldron will dismantle itself and radiate back down to the ground and each of those copper pieces take away by each nation and put in a national Olympic cabinet somewhere.' Thomas Heatherwick

The copper petals, created to be 'very small and humble objects', were made using traditionally skilled craftsmen of the sort who used to roll sheet metal to make body parts for car makers such as Bentley, according to Mr Heatherwick.
photo of a scale model of the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron Dezeen

 'It is like the biggest gadget that anyone can make in a shed but this shed is the most sophisticate shed in Harrogate. 'It was like the Bond gadget workshop. We were thinking about this incredible object with 204 nations coming together. It was a challenge but it did not feel enough to design a different shaped bowl.' Heatherwick
Photo of scale model of the cauldron Dezeen
Photo of scale model of the cauldron Dezeen
Photo of scale model of the cauldron Dezeen
A 1:10 scale model of the cauldron will be on show at the V&A Exhibition, Heatherwick Studio – Designing the Extraordinary, from 29 July.


Heatherwick Studio