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In order to manage the logistics of the first indoor opening ceremonies, Vancouver needed two Olympic cauldrons. The first cauldron was used during the official ceremonies inside BC Place, while the second (permanent) cauldron sits on Vancouver’s waterfront.
Due to a now infamous hydraulics malfunction during the opening ceremonies, only three of the four ‘arms’ that surround the temporary cauldron were raised into position. Unfortunately, this undermined what seems to be the core logic of the design: allowing the cauldron to be lit by four torchbearers at once. Too bad, it’s a lovely sentiment and probably the most compelling aspect of the design.
Free of technical glitches, the waterfront cauldron seems to be a big hit with Olympic spectators, though it’s far from perfection. Certainly, the scale of the design is suitably impressive and the five flame concept unique, but the resulting form is clumsy and feels out of step with the look of these Games. Up close, the details seem unconsidered and the textured metal work looks cheap – like a tin foil covered set from a low budget sci-fi movie (given Vancouver’s lively film industry, don’t be surprised if it ends up as exactly that).
Compounding the shortcomings of the design itself, VANOC neglected the cauldrons role as a major tourist attraction and photo op. In order to maintain security around the cauldron and nearby media centre, the Vancouver Organizers surrounded the entire site with a chain link fence, effectively preventing (non VIP) visitors from getting a picture with the Flame. Flooded with complaints, last night VANOC finally responded by moving the fence closer, creating an opening for photos and providing an elevated platform for a better view. But the fence remains.