Olympic Cauldron

Heatherwick Studio, London, 2012


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Olympic Cauldron to display the flame during the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games

Created from 204 individual flames the cauldron formed the centerpiece of the opening ceremony before being moved to edge of stadium to allow the sporting events to take place.

The cauldron consists of ten concentric rings of copper petals, that were carried into the stadium by competing teams and assembled on radiating poles before bring raised to meet as one flame in its closed configuration.

Each stem comprises four different swaged circular section stainless steel tubes which were squeezed and spun to form tapers before being welded end-to-end. The stems have a finish known as ‘bad black’, which makes them look thinner and, depending on their background and lighting, more invisible.

Although 204 petals, that each have the name of one of the competing nations inscribed on its rim, have similar shapes, they are all slightly different and interlock with each other to create satisfactory forms in the cauldron’s open and closed configurations.

The petals are fixed to the stems with bayonet light bulb-type connections and notches in the petals that enabled them to be fitted around the burners, which gas safety regulations required to be pre-welded to the stems, thus keeping the petals’ funnels as narrow as possible.

In its closed configuration, the petals at the top of the cauldron formed a concave bowl. To create a flame with a convex profile which was highest at the centre, more gas had to be supplied to the burners in the inner arrays of petals.


  • Completed: Jul 2012
  • Sector: Arts and culture
  • Tender date: 2010
  • Procurement: CompeteFor (Portal for London 2012 Projects)
  • Address: Olympic Stadium, Stratford, London, E15, United Kingdom

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