The Eden Project is a global garden for the 21st Century, a gateway to a sustainable future and a dramatic setting in which to tell the fascinating story of mankinds dependence on plants. It is a top international visitor destination and it is rapidly becoming a unique resource for education and home to our Foundation. Most visitors find that they need at least four hours to fully enjoy the site. There is a choice of reasonably-priced cafes, snack bars and also a restaurant, all offering a range of delicious food (most of it sourced in Cornwall).
In spring, visitors can enjoy the fantastic display bulbs (daffodils, crocuses and tulips) which start to bloom from February. On most days throughout the summer there are extra events –theatre, workshops, art displays, gardening talks, children? events, music and much more. Please check our website for current details.
Hidden within a 60-metre deep, 15-hectare former China clay pit (quarry) and surrounded outside by a dramatic horticultural landscape, Eden is home to the two largest conservatories (known as covered Biomes) in the world. This spectacular global garden is a "Living Theatre of People and Plants" – dedicated to the appreciation and study of human dependence on plants.
The Rainforest Biome houses plants from the Tropical Islands, Malaysia, West Africa and Tropical South America. This Biome (which could hold the Tower of London) is 50 metres high, 110 metres wide and 240 metres long. There are plants and crops from tropical environments and rainforests, including bananas, coffee, balsa, mahogany, bromeliads (orchids), spices and tropical ferns. Each plant has its own story and the innovative signs and guides help visitors to enjoy those stories to the full.
The smaller Mediterranean Biome - 35 metres high and 140 metres long - showcases the cradle of civilisation around the Mediterranean (citrus, olives, herbs and vines), the rich variety of the South African regions (proteas and aloes), drifts of colourful Californian annuals (poppies and lupins) and shrubs of the Chapparal. There are also banks of fruits, vegetables and other crops.
Wherever possible, bio-pest control is used. The Rainforest Biome is currently home to a number of mini predators, including Sulawesi White Eyes (tiny birds), tree frogs, geckos and bullfrogs, together with praying mantis and tiny predator insects.
The Biomes indoors and out contain over one million plants, more than 5,000 different species from around the world – some common and some rare. They are, however, all plants that we depend on every day. Where did the plants come from? Most were already in cultivation in Europe and came to us from other botanic gardens, research stations, private individuals or from commercial nurseries
. Very few were collected from the wild.
Many plants arrived as seeds or cuttings and were (and still are) grown at Eden? own nurseries
. Any rare plants that live at Eden are there to tell a story and are gathered with the full support of governments, together with conservation and development organisations. All have a part to play in telling the story of the relationship between mankind and plants.
Structure of the Biomes
Building a lean-to greenhouse on an uneven surface that changed shape was tricky. The solution came in the form of designs first introduced by famous architect, Buckminster Fuller – bubbles made from hexagons!
The final design comprises a two-layer steel curved space frame, the hex-tri-hex, with an outer layer of hexagons (the largest of which is 11m across), plus the occasional pentagon and an inner layer of hexagons and triangles – all bolted together like a giant Meccano kit.
Each hexagon is fitted with transparent foil windows, made from three layers of Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), in inflated, two-metre-deep pillows. The pillows were installed by 22 professional abseilers – the sky monkeys!
No more than a sterile wasteland as recently as 1999, led to the pioneering manufacturing of 85,000 tonnes of soil – made from a special „ecipe?devised by a joint team of Eden? scientists and Reading University from China clay and composted waste. Economic impact studies have shown that in its first five years, Eden has generated more than £800 million for the regional economy. Eden's unprecedented popularity has led to the Project now employing around 500 staff – 85 per cent of whom come from the local area. The award-winning £15 million education centre known as the Core was officially opened by Her Majesty the Queen in June, 2006.
EDEN’S NEXT EVOLUTION: THE EDGE
The Edge, a visionary new building meeting the challenges of climate change, represents the next evolution of Eden. It has its roots in our original ambition to have a Biome that focuses on the desert regions of the world. But, in the seven years since fully opening, Eden?s vision has evolved, as has the network of organisations and communities we have worked with. The context for the new building will be the oncoming water crisis, the challenges in the supply of energy, and the impacts of these change to our climate.
The building will be a landmark construction in the tradition Eden has established – a beautiful and dynamic blend of architecture, technology, science and the arts. The operational technology and systems will demonstrate options for energy supply, water conservation and waste management that will act as models of how we all might live in the next decades. Its scale and setting within a yet-to-be reclaimed part of the Bodelva pit will be a new icon of regeneration, showing that mankind is capable of amazing things, including leaving the world better than we found it.
In December 2007, the Edge was one of four projects in the final round of the Big Lottery Fund?s: People?s £50 Million contest. The Lottery combined with ITV to devise a competition where the people of Britain could vote by internet and phone for their favourite project. The eventual winner was Sustrans Connect2, which took the entire £50 million prize. Following the result, Eden said that it would now look at a range of funding possibilities for the Edge.
Switchboard: 01726 811911
Box Office: 01726 811972
Eden has a dedicated Media Centre on its website at www.edenproject.com
OPENING TIMES, ADMISSION PRICES AND ‘EDEN FRIENDS’
March 17 to October 26: 9.30am to 6pm (last entry 4.30pm). Biomes open from 10am.
During the summer holidays (July 31 to August 30) we're open later (until 9.30pm) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings. Reduced admission applies after 4.30pm: adults £9, seniors £6 and children free. (Details to be confirmed)
Before March 19 and after October 26, 2008: 10am to 4.30pm (last entry 3pm). Biomes open from 10am.
Eden is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.