News Column

London 2012: Cauldron design lawsuit settled

July 24, 2014

Oliver Wainwright

Organisers of the London Olympics have reached an out-of-court settlement over the disputed origins of the cauldron design that formed the centrepiece of the opening ceremony.

The startling cauldron of copper petals that rose up to form a flaming flower had been hailed as one of the most original in the history of the Games, and another triumph for the highly regarded British designer Thomas Heatherwick. But two years on, Locog has acknowledged in a statement that New York-based practice Atopia came up with five design principles that would go on to become defining characteristics of the cauldron.

The acknowledgement, which comes with an undisclosed financial settlement, follows a year of legal wrangling since the Guardian revealed striking similarities between the cauldron and a design for a pavilion developed by Atopia.

Their proposal was pitched to Locog between 2006 and 2008, several years before Heatherwick was involved, when the practice was engaged in a consulting and tender process for a project to showcase sustainability values during the Games, called the One Planet Pavilion.

In a settlement that states no admission of liability, Locog acknowledged that Atopia came up with several key features, including the real-time construction of a pavilion from more than 200 flower-shaped forms, one for each participating nation; the fact these elements would be brought in by "bearers" and passed on to the "next generation" to be planted to form the pavilion; and that the flower-shaped forms be returned to participating nations after the Games.

All of these were evident in the cauldron's final form, which has now been enshrined in a purpose-built gallery at the Museum of London that opens to the public tomorrow.

But Heatherwick remains adamant his design was not influenced.

"I knew nothing of this settlement until today," he said. "I can't help but feel saddened by what seems like cynical timing to coincide with the opening of the Museum of London's cauldron exhibition this week."


The Guardian's story on design dispute

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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