Cauldron designer admits he broke the rules

LONDON Sat Jul 28, 2012 8:26pm IST

The Olympic cauldron is seen lit during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

The Olympic cauldron is seen lit during the opening ceremony of the London 2012 Olympic Games at the Olympic Stadium July 27, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

Kishore Pandey, 82, lies on a bed as his daughter, Usha Tiwari, holds him and a priest stands by them (L) at Mukti Bhavan (Salvation House) in Varanasi, in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh, June 19, 2014. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Waiting to die at Salvation House

The city of Varanasi is Hinduism's holiest city and many Hindus believe that dying there and having their remains scattered in the Ganges allows their soul to escape a cycle of death and rebirth.  Slideshow 

LONDON (Reuters) - The man behind London's unique Olympic cauldron described on Saturday how he broke all the rules with his delicate yet dramatic burning flower design.

The cauldron was one of the best-kept secrets of the opening ceremony, and one of the most intricate and technically difficult ever created.

Consisting of 204 petals, one for each competing country, it first appeared like an open flower, stretched across the centre of the main stadium floor.

The stainless steel stems then gently rose in waves, bringing the 10 rings of petals into one closed ball of fire.

"Our very first briefing from the technical team ... was please can you come up with a design for the cauldron, and whatever you do, make sure there's no moving parts," designer Thomas Heatherwick told reporters after Friday's ceremony.

"And we were 'how are we going to persuade them, they are never to go for this'.

"It's the most moving parts that's humanly possible to have in a cauldron."

He said he was expecting a battle with organisers, but everyone "grabbed it", including Prime Minister David Cameron.

SEVEN YOUNG ATHLETES

In a dazzling but also quintessentially British opening ceremony, seven young athletes lit the cauldron, dumbfounding most pundits who had put their money on Roger Bannister, the first man to run a mile in less than four minutes, or Steve Redgrave, five-time Olympic rowing gold medallist.

Heatherwick said the decision was "natural and it's never been done before".

"The UK's a country that has historically had the courage to do things that people don't necessarily think are obvious ... and we supported it completely, the cauldron can take it."

The designer said he pondered as much about where the cauldron should go as how it should look after years of ever bigger and higher cauldrons.

He said he did not want to just design a "different shape of bowl on a stick".

"I think the automatic assumption when we were thinking as designers was that the cauldron should be stuck on the top like a mobile phone aerial stuck on the stadium," he added.

Instead, he wanted the 204 "very small humble" petals to come together and hold hands, creating one flame, in the centre of the stadium, surrounded by the athletes.

Heatherwick said a five-man team had had to work in the early hours of the morning after everybody else had left the Olympic Park in east London to keep it a secret and no helicopters were allowed to hover overhead.

The 8.5-metre-tall cauldron is due to be moved on July 29 to a raised platform at one end of the stadium, similar to its position in the 1948 Games, the last time London staged the Olympics.

But its new home could annoy some.

One of the most iconic and photographed attractions of any Games, the flame will be out of sight of anyone not attending an event in the main stadium.

The petals, which each have a unique design for every nation, will be given to the national Olympic committees after the athletes have gone home. (Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Commonwealth Games

SPORTS SHOWCASE

Fastest Man

Fastest Man

Interview - Usain Bolt says his best is yet to come.  Full Article 

After 23 Years

After 23 Years

Mexico is back on the F1 calendar in 2015.  Full Article 

NBA Update

NBA Update

NBA great LeBron James sends 800 cupcake apologies to hometown.  Full Article 

Zidane Takes Charge

Zidane Takes Charge

Zidane makes mystery man Markkanen his first Madrid signing.  Full Article 

Rising Star?

Rising Star?

Bhuvneshwar Kumar’s pursuit of cricketing excellence.  Full Article 

Dismissing Reports

Dismissing Reports

I'm not heading to PSG, says ex-Juventus boss Conte.  Full Article 

2016 Olympics

2016 Olympics

Interview - World Cup will inspire Rio Olympics - IOC's Bach.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage