Nendo's sun-like cauldron lights up the opening ceremony of Tokyo Olympics 2020

A giant spherical form, which unfurled to hold the shimmering hydrogen-powered Olympic flame, lifted the curtain on the Olympic Games that are being held in Tokyo.

by STIRworldPublished on : Jul 28, 2021

The spherical white cauldron for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka lit on July 23, 2021, during the final leg of the Games' opening ceremony, has been designed by Tokyo-based Nendo studio. The flower-like cauldron bloomed to reveal the shimmering 2020 Olympics flame – the sight expressing itself as 'a symbol of hope'.

04 mins watch Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic Cauldron at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron | Nendo | STIRworld
Naomi Osaka lights the Olympic Cauldron at the Tokyo 2020 opening ceremony Video: Courtesy of Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games
Conceptual sketch  | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron | Nendo | STIRworld
Conceptual sketch Image: Hiroshi Iwasaki

Reverberating the opening ceremony’s manifesto of 'All gather under the Sun, all are equal, and all receive energy', Nendo’s founder Oki Sato gave the cauldron a form that resembles the shape of the sun. As per the studio, a total of 85 drafts were made, from flames trapped in a heat-resistant glass sphere to spinning the flames to create a spherical appearance, before arriving on the final design. The studio referred the cauldron lighting ceremony as synonymous to the "energy and vitality that can be obtained from the sun", paving way to "plants sprouting, flowers blooming, and hands opening wide toward the sky".

The lit cauldron captured towards the end of the games’ opening ceremony on July 23, 2021 | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron | Nendo | STIRworld
The lit cauldron captured towards the end of the games’ opening ceremony on July 23, 2021 Image: ©️CNOSF/KMSP, Courtesy of Flickr
An expansive view of the event (the cauldron is placed on the top of a stepped pedestal)  | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron | Nendo | STIRworld
An expansive view of the event (the cauldron is placed on the top of a stepped pedestal) Image: ©️CNOSF/KMSP, Courtesy of Flickr

The structure of the cauldron features upper and lower hemispheres with five aluminium panels each that represent the Olympic rings. The overall form weighs 2.7 tonnes with a diameter of 3.5m obtained when the lighting is initiated by the final torchbearer. The interiors reveal reflective surfaces that create a beautiful contrast against the yellow flame that burnt in hydrogen energy. As stated in a press statement, the hydrogen was obtained through the electrolysis of water powered by solar power. The whole production process took place at a facility in Japan's Fukushima Prefecture. As hydrogen energy singularly burns with a colourless, transparent flame, the desired colour of the flame was achieved by spraying sodium carbonate to it.

A closer view of the cauldron burning with the hydrogen flame | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron | Nendo | STIRworld
A closer view of the cauldron burning with the hydrogen flame Image: ©️CNOSF/KMSP, Courtesy of Flickr

"The amount and direction of the aqueous solution sprayed from the vicinity of the burner were repeatedly examined along with the amount of hydrogen and the angle of the valve, in order to adjust the movement and shape of the flame to shimmer like firewood was stoked; such an attempt to “design flames” was unprecedented,” explained the design team at Nendo.

A view showing the reflective Interiors of the cauldron | Tokyo 2020 Olympic Cauldron | Nendo | STIRworld
A photo showing the reflective Interiors of the cauldron Image: ©️CNOSF/KMSP, Courtesy of Flickr

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics, which previously announced 5,000 medals for the Games made by retrieving metals from used electronic devices among various other initiatives, embraced the use of hydrogen – a next generation energy – to reduce the event's impact on environment. The games which are on till August 08, 2021, are being hosted inside the newly built 68,000-seat Japan National Stadium designed by architect Kengo Kuma.

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