Who would have thought that the Garden of Eden was only a few moments away: The world’s largest greenhouse – the Eden Project – is located in British Cornwall.
The largest greenhouse in the world
However, the green gem is far from a classic garden. The gigantic plastic domes that seem to bow over the former quarry are more reminiscent of a greeting from the future. The idea of turning a disused kaolin pit into an ecological park came from the British archaeologist and garden lover Tim Smit. The central point of the complex is formed by two greenhouses, each consisting of four interlinked geodesic domes – or rather biomes – and enclosing part of the 50 hectare site.
Grimshaw’s gigantic biomes
The Eden Project is perhaps the best-known project by architect and high-tech poet Nicholas Grimshaw, who implemented Smit’s plans with his architecture studio Grimshaw Architects. The first design and planning concepts were created in 1995, the grand opening of the plant took place six years later – in March 2001. Grimshaw’s original plan was to provide the building with a vaulted structure based on the former Eurostar Waterloo International terminal. The bubble-like shape of the building therefore arose out of necessity – so as not to block the excavation of the quarry. Grimshaw designed i.a. the Frankfurt exhibition hall or the igus headquarters in Cologne. In the meantime, he has resigned as chairman of his architecture studio and has retired.
❞ I think one of the big architectural issues of the future is realising the real significance of plants in human life, and the connection between plants and buildings can only get closer. ❝
— Architect Nicholas Grimshaw about Eden Project 1
Inside the Eden Project: a tropical journey
Inside, various vegetation zones are simulated, in which over 100,000 plants from more than 5,000 species can be found. The tropical climate in the first dome construction takes visitors on a journey through the rainforest – past beetles and insects, a pond and a waterfall. A small cold store provides cooling after half of the tour, which contains clearly more acceptable temperatures for us Europeans. The second greenhouse is home to plants that occur in subtropical, dry and Mediterranean climates. Here it quickly becomes clear why the Mediterranean region is also called the temperate climate zone: it smells of lemons and olives, stones and cactuses alternate along the way. Not to mention the much more pleasant temperatures.
The Eden Project between James Bond and Jamie Oliver
At least since Pierce Brosnan swung down from one of the domes in “Die Another Day”, the Eden Project has been one of the most popular attractions in the region. In the meantime, over a million visitors come every year, to get inspired by the Mediterranean, California and Australian flora. Numerous bars and cafes in the style of Jamie Oliver ensure the physical well-being of visitors, and even a hotel 2 is scheduled to open in 2021. There is no question that the Eden Project is not only beautiful to look at, but in the truest sense an ecological tourist magnet. But unlike in most show gardens, the Eden Project attaches great importance to educating and breeding endangered and old varieties. In addition to the plant names, visitors will find precise information on the use and ecological importance of the individual plants; learn where all the spices, car tires and erasers actually come from or how mangoes, bananas, cashews and cocoa can be combined to form a delicious smoothie. The mission of the Eden Project is not only to inspire visitors for the colorful flora or the impressive architecture of the facility, but also to sensitize them to the environment and its protection.
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