Visiting Cornwall.

Posted by on October 29, 2015

Visiting the Eden Project in Cornwall, England was one of the most inspiring experiences I have ever had. The ‘alien’ looking structures which nestle in a reclaimed Kaolinite pit, conjure up imaginary living conditions on other planets.

The incredible structures of the Eden Project. Photo: Esther

The incredible domed structures of the Eden Project. Photo: Esther

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 domes consist of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames. The first dome simulates a tropical environment, and the second a Mediterranean environment.

The project was conceived by Tim Smit, designed by architect Nicolas Grimshaw  and engineering firm Anthony Hunt and Associates.

It took  2½ years to construct and  was opened to the public on 17 March 2001.

Biomes:

At the bottom of the pit are two covered biomes, inside the artificial biomes are plants that are collected from all around the world.

The tropical biome. Photo: Esther

The tropical biome.
Photo: Esther

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.

A little bit of the Cape Fynbos in the Mediterannean biome. Photo: Esther

A little bit of the Cape Fynbos in the Mediterannean biome.
Photo: Esther

The Mediterranean biome covers 0.654 hectares (1.6 acres) and measures 35 metres high, 65 metres wide, and 135 metres long. It houses familiar warm temperate and arid  plants such as olives and grape vines from the Mediterranean and many fynbos species from South Africa. Nostalgia set in  when   we entered this biome; I was transported back to the Cape where the air is filled with the musky frangance of  fynbos. Here bugu, pelargonium, salvia, artimisia,   Namaqualand daisies, restios and aloes all flourish in this artificial environment. The moisture in my eyes was not due to the humidity in this biome!

The Outdoor Biome (which is not covered) represents the temperate regions of the world with plants such as tea, lavender, hops, hemp and sunflowers.

The outside biome. Photo: Esther

The outdoor biome. Photo: Esther

The innovative  biomes are constructed from a tubular steel  with mostly hexagonal external cladding panels made from the thermoplastic ETFE.  The structure is completely self-supporting, with no internal supports.

The Eden Project includes environmental education focusing on the interdependence of plants and people; plants are labelled with their medicinal uses.

The beautiful Cornish coast line. Flowers include Lotus corniculatus and Armeria maritima

The beautiful Cornish coast line. Flowers include Lotus corniculatus and Armeria maritima. Photo: Esther

The Cornwall is noted for its wild Moorland landscape, its long and varied coastline and its attractive villages.  Extensive stretches of the Cornish  coastline and Bodmin Moor are protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

 

 

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