The Largest Greenhouse in the World
The Eden Project is a visitor attraction in Cornwall, UK, and it is home to the world’s largest greenhouse. Inside the artificial biomes are plants that are collected from all around the world. The project is located in a reclaimed Kaolinite pit (clay China), located 1.25 mi (2 kilometres) from the town of St Blazey and 5 kilometres (3 mi) from the larger town of St Austell, Cornwall.
The complex is dominated by two huge enclosures consisting of adjoining domes that house thousands of plant species. Each enclosure emulates a natural biome. The first dome emulates a tropical environment, and the second a Mediterranean environment. The domes consist of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames.
Below you will find pictures of this incredible place along with the history of the project and some of its key features. Enjoy! And be sure to check out edenproject.com for all visitor and event information.
The Eden Project
The project was conceived by Sir Tim Smit and designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw and engineering firm Anthony Hunt and Associates (now part of Sinclair Knight Merz). Davis Langdon carried out the project management, Sir Robert McAlpine and Alfred McAlpine did the construction and MERO designed and built the biomes. Land Use Consultants led the masterplan and landscape design. The project took 2.5 years to construct and opened to the public on 17 March 2001. [Source]
The Eden Project Biomes
The Tropical Biome, covers 1.56 hectares (3.9 acres) and measures 55 metres (180 ft) high, 100 metres (328 ft) wide and 200 metres (656 ft) long. It is used for tropical plants, such as fruiting banana trees, coffee, rubber and giant bamboo, and is kept at a tropical temperature and moisture level.
The Mediterranean Biome covers 0.654 hectares (1.6 acres) and measures 35 metres (115 ft) high, 65 metres (213 ft) wide and 135 metres (443 ft) long. It houses familiar warm temperate and arid plants such as olives and grape vines and various sculptures.
The Outdoor Biome (which is not covered) represents the temperate regions of the world with plants such as tea, lavender, hops, hemp and sunflowers. [Source]
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 cladding panels themselves are created from several layers of thin UV-transparent ETFE film, which are sealed around their perimeter and inflated to create a large cushion. The resulting cushion acts as a thermal blanket to the structure.
The ETFE material is resistant to most stains, which simply wash off in the rain. If required, cleaning can be performed by abseilers. Although the ETFE is susceptible to punctures, these can be easily fixed with ETFE tape. The structure is completely self-supporting, with no internal supports, and takes the form of a geodesic structure. The panels vary in size up to 9 metres (29.5 ft) across, with the largest at the top of the structure. [Source]
Ten Millionth Visitor
In July of 2008, Project Eden welcomed their 10 millionth visitor. Tim Smit greets Eden’s 10 millionth visitor by surprise at the ticketing hall. Jonathan and Sarah Shaw, a couple from Oxfordshire, are presented with lifetime memberships to Eden and a complimentary meal for two. By Project Eden’s 10th birthday they had welcomed almost 13 million visitors since fully opening on March 17, 2001. [Source]
In December of 2010, Project Eden received the green light for a geothermal plant. Eden received planning permission to build a geothermal power plant at Eden in collaboration with EGS Energy. Taking renewable energy from deep inside the Cornish granite, the plan is to heat the Biomes and feed electricity into the national grid. It’s part of their target to slash Eden’s carbon emissions by 80% by 2020. [Source]