Works in Progress - Spring 2010

Olympics Forecast: Cloudy with Towers

By Emily Ochoa | June 27, 2013


Beijing 2008 built the iconic Bird’s Nest Olympics stadium while working to minimize clouds of Chinese industrial pollution. London 2012 may embrace another kind of cloud altogether.

A Google-supported proposal for what is being called the Cloud contends that the “mute mass” of past Olympic buildings is outmoded and promises to build a structure that embodies a new era by means of its lightness, changeability, and ability to transmit information. The ambitious plan calls for two slender towers to rise over London’s Olympic stadium, with a mass of giant inflatable spheres at the top. The spheres would serve as screens for live feeds of videos and information about the Games.

The Cloud is one of a number of projects in the running to be commissioned by the London Olympic Committee, with a final decision by London Mayor Boris Johnson expected any day now. Should the Cloud not be chosen, however, the Cloud team says it is committed to raising funds themselves to see it developed. Olympic fans and visitors are meant to be an integral part of the design, first by making donations to the project, then by simply traveling to the top of one of the Cloud towers: as they descend on foot, their gravitational potential energy will be transformed into electricity, which will help power the cloud.

Besides Google, the Cloud team includes MIT researchers and the philosopher Umberto Eco.

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