The Eden Project has been dubbed ‘the eighth wonder of the world’ by many and it’s the passion project of Sir Timothy Bartel Smit KBE. Bartel is a Dutch-born British businessman who worked as an archaeologist before taking an unexpected turn into the music business, working as a successful songwriter and producer. In 1987 he and his family moved to Cornwall and later he came up with the vision for the Eden Project and proceeded to make it a reality.
On the site of what was once a Cornish china clay pit, now sits the world-famous geodesic domes – inflated panels of triangles, pentagons and hexagons made into 300ft domes and are filled with thousands of plants and trees recreating the environmental conditions of both a rainforest and the Mediterranean. Each are filled with all kinds of plants, insects and even some native birds from the region. The rainforest biome is basically the largest indoor rainforest in the world and has jungle, waterfalls and a towering forest canopy, mangrove swamps, paddy field and so much more. In the Mediterranean biome the climate is similar to global regions such as South Africa, South West Australia, Central Chile and California. You’ll find the plants, fruits and herbs from these regions – lemons olives, grapes, rosemary, thyme and oregano.
The 35-acre site is a homage to creativity and human inventiveness and imagination. The Eden Project is so much more than a tourist attraction for Cornwall, it’s a botanical garden and educational charity and social enterprise – a bit like the Noah’s ark of plants really, making it the world’s biggest greenhouse. It was designed by architect, Nicholas Grimshaw and took two and a half years to finish with the complex opening in March 2001. The design of the domes is a wonderful example of biomimicry.