The incredible Eden Project is a collection of unique artificial biomes containing an amazing collection of plants from around the world.
Located in a reclaimed quarry in Cornwall, England, the complex consists of huge domes that look rather like massive igloo-shaped greenhouses.
The clay pit in which the project is sited was in use for over 160 years.
The initial idea for the project dates back to 1996, with construction beginning in 1998.
The project took 2½ years to construct and opened to the public on 17 March 2001.
The complex is dominated by two huge enclosures consisting of adjoining domes that house thousands of plant species, and each enclosure emulates a natural biome.
The Tropical Biome, covers 1.56 hectares (3.9 acres) and measures 55 m (180 ft) high, 100 m (328 ft) wide, and 200 m (656 ft) long. It is used for tropical plants, such as fruiting banana plants, coffee, rubber and giant bamboo, and is kept at a tropical temperature and moisture level.
The Mediterranean Biome, covers 0.654 hectare (1.6 acres) and measures 35 m (115 ft) high, 65 m (213 ft) wide, and 135 m (443 ft) long. It houses familiar warm temperate and arid plants such as olives and grape vines and various sculptures.
The Outdoor Gardens represent the temperate regions of the world with plants such as tea, lavender, hops, hemp and sunflowers, as well as local plant species.
The Core is the latest addition to the site and opened in September 2005. It provides the Eden Project with an education facility, incorporating classrooms and exhibition spaces designed to help communicate Eden’s central message about the relationship between people and plants.
Two Biome buildings were designed by Grimshaw Architects. Grimshaw’s starting point was the geodesic system made famous by the American architect Buckminster Fuller, who designed the Climatron dome at the Missouri Botanical Gardens in St Louis, USA, and the Montreal Biosphere in Canada.
The covered biomes are constructed from a tubular steel (hex-tri-hex) with mostly hexagonal external cladding panels made from the thermoplastic ETFE. Glass was avoided due to its weight and potential dangers.
The Eden Project holds the Guinness Book of World record for the “most scaffolding used on a single structure”, 370 kilometers (230 miles) of it.
The green tiles on the floor of the Core – Eden’s education building – were originally Heineken beer bottles. The entrance mats are made of recycled truck tyres.
The Eden Project’s purpose is to demonstrate the importance of plants to people and to promote sustainable use of plant resources.
The Eden Project has brought massive economic and social changes to the region.
The Eden Project receive about 1 million visitors per year.
The Eden Project has hosted a series of musical performances, called the Eden Sessions.
Eden’s biomes appears in the James Bond film Die Another Day, where they stand in for the villain’s diamond mine in Iceland.