Finally, a chance to see the Olympic Stadium AND Thomas Heatherwick's much-praised Cauldron. It has been placed inside the stadium, much to the public's dismay, so only those lucky enough to have a ticket to a stadium event get to see it.
The cauldron is 8.5 metres high and made up of 204 “petals”, representing each of the Olympic nations. They are fuelled by natural gas pumped through the steel and copper stems.
And how does it look? It is a presence. Placed at one end of the stadium, it is clearly in view from all parts of the huge venue. Its lights are blazing but it is much smaller than one would think. It is quite intimate looking; dignified and restrained. Rather than trendy or in-your-face design, it is respectful of the age-old tradition.
Thomas Heatherwick wanted to design something that was on a personal scale. He has said:
We felt that sharing it with the screens reinforced the intimacy within it. If it had been a huge beacon lifted up in the air it would have had to be bigger, and would have somehow not met the brief that we discussed with Danny Boyle of making something that was rooted in where the people are. With the technology we now have that didn’t exist in 1948 it can be shared with everyone in the Olympic Park with screens.
As for the stadium, it is big. Very big. We have all seen it on t.v. but the size and the noise with the crowds cheering is overwhelming. Designed by Populous, it is very minimalist in design: basically racks of seats with some outer buildings housing the concessions and other administrative facilities.
It feels lightweight, there are no walls--what separates the inside from the outside is only the plastic wrap. Walking from outside of the stadium to the inside felt like walking into an outdoor seating arena, not a proper building. Since the majority of the stadium is open, and not covered, you feel part of the outside environment.