Code named ‘Betty’, the Heatherwick Studio designed Olympic Cauldron was one of the most complex and elegant automated devices we have ever manufactured and engineered.
Comprising over 4,000 components, the cauldron consisted of 204 individually designed copper petals attached to tapering horizontal steel stems. These were arranged in ten concentric rings and attached to a five-tier ziggurat base. Not only was each petal unique in size and form, but each had to precisely interlock with its neighbours so that when the cauldron closed, a tight bowl shape was formed. In fact, the array of stems was so tight, that just 1º of error would have resulted in a meshing of adjacent petals.
In its down position, the design resembled a composite flower head, offering optimal spectator viewing from all angles. Once lit, the 9m long stems and copper petals gracefully rose to vertical, coming together to create the gleaming copper cauldron and providing what was to become one of the iconic images of the Games.