London 2012 Olympic Cauldron
by Thomas Heatherwick

London 2012 Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick

Dezeen Wire: here are the first images of the London 2012 Olympic Cauldron designed by Thomas Heatherwick, unveiled at the opening ceremony of the games tonight.

The cauldron consists of 204 copper petals, each representing one of the competing nations. They were brought into the stadium by each team as part of the athletes' procession then attached to long pipes in a ring at the centre of the arena.

London 2012 Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick

Seven young athletes chosen by British Olympic champions passed the flames from torches to seven of the petals then the flames spread from one petal to the next. Once all the petals were ablaze the pipes rose them upwards to combine as one.

The Olympic Torch designed by Hackney studio BarberOsgerby was unveiled last year and has been touring the UK since 19 May as part of the Olympic relay but the design of Heatherwick's cauldron was a closely guarded secret until tonight.

London 2012 Olympic Cauldron by Thomas Heatherwick

Watch Heatherwick talk about working on the project in our movie interview filmed at the preview of his exhibition at the V&A.

An exhibit about the Olympic Cauldron will be added to Heatherwick's ongoing exhibition at the V&A museum from tomorrow.

See all our stories about the London 2012 Olympics »
See all our stories about Thomas Heatherwick »

  • I wonder if it could have been possible to make each individual flame burn with a different color, at least during the first minutes of the lighting ceremony.

  • jason

    No one I know wanted to see the history of of the UK – especially the slavery re-enactment. (Outstanding cauldron Thomas Heatherwick!)

  • Jordi Panzram

    You know what else would look amazing in flames? Zaha Hadid’s aquatic building.

    • Alex

      People throw around critical comments far too easily. Such as the one above, why exactly do you think this? Probably lack of understanding, naivety and jealousy.

  • aquatic building

    A load of Britons think it’s the greatest ceremony. It was underwhelming. Olafur Eliasson would have blown this idea away.

    • christopher

      I think the cauldron is a living sculpture, a beautiful work of mechanical art that was the vision of one man who did what he was asked to do… and I got it… I understood the idea and marvelled as the flames slowly rose and became one.

      Symbolic on every level… nations rising up together to shine together more brightly. I have been up close to it in the stadium and seen how mesmerising it is for all who view it.

      Just… let go of the pettiness and embrace the joy of these moments in the games. I worked as a volunteer at the 1996 games in Atlanta in the USA and they were amazing too… but I have been very impressed with the attitudes of the spectators and participants in these games. It will never happen again in Britain… not like this, and not for a long time to come.

  • I just stopped by to read about the designer and the design and I see all this controversy. Wow, such a mixture of comments… some very positive and some very negative or even spiteful… all of this this over a simple sculpture that was meant to just be used for two and a half weeks… a symbol of unity causing disunity.

    Ironically, those malcontented persons who cause division are the same types of people who will always be ready to cause division and create discontent in any situation where unity is what is striven for.

  • Michele

    I love the cauldron so much I wish it could burn forever or at least be kept afterwards so people can still go and see it. It’s too beautiful to never be able to see it again after the closing ceremony. I think Thomas Heatherwick should market mini versions that we can buy and have to keep forever. I’m sure there would be quite a big demand for this. Who agrees?