The weather was behaving quite well during our week stay in Cornwall, letting us enjoy the sun on a sandy beach. In the morning you could hardly see the sea in front of you, the beach was stretching endlessly and the sea was merging with pale horizon, making you walk a mile just to touch freezing water and finally understand why so many people were wearing wetsuits. In the afternoon the high tide was swallowing the beach quickly. Some carefree tourists lost few possessions ignoring approaching water until it was too late. Few hours later the waves were crushing steel stairs attached to the rock we used in the morning to reach the beach.
The morning we chose to visit Eden Project was a rainy one, the perfect day to explore since the beach was not very attractive alternative. The fog was not giving up almost all day, creating mysterious enclosure for the two domes dominating in Tim Smit’s project. When you come through the entrance you are first approaching the bridge which allows you to cast a look at the Eden Project from the top. The fog swaddling the domes softened the surroundings even more, coating incredible sculpture of a towering robot created from old electrical appliances.
The two domes are the home for thousands of plants, maintaining a natural biome, stimulating a tropical and Mediterranean environment. They are built out of hundreds hexagonal and pentagonal inflated plastic cells, supported by steel frames, allowing achieving the illusion of sky above, creating unique world almost torn out of the tropics and Mediterranean.
When we submerged into the domes, which are linked with each other, we felt like crossing a boarder into isolated and perfectly prevented world. The plants were healthy and lush, with vibrantly green leaves and deliciously looking fruits. The bananas were slowly moving above our heads, with the help of cleverly designed line allowing the work to be carried out during the day without any distractions to the visitors. Lemon and orange trees were heavy with maturing fruits, but nothing went to waste as all the plants were carefully attended by the staff working on the side. The sculpture of people and animals made out of wood, perfectly bend to the desired shape were looking at us, with a challenging expression, showing who in this world is the boss.
The Eden Project was opened to the public on 17 March 2001, featuring not only two incredible domes with all the riches of the tropics, but a meandering path you can look at the whole Project from above, carefully planted landscapes, vegetable gardens and sculptures.
The Domes are huge – the tropical one covers 1.56 hectares and is 55 meters high, 100 meters wide and 200 meters long. You will find there banana trees, coffee and giant bamboo, growing incredible well by keeping the temperature and the moist on the appropriate level. A huge waterfall is adding to the charm of the tropics and few exhibitions presenting the simple life of African people is creating an unique atmosphere when you are wandering around, getting lost between the plants. The Mediterranean Biome is smaller, stealing only 0.654 hectares and measuring 35 meters high, 65 meters wide and 135 meters long. You can spot some olives and grape vines and many sculptures. The outside space houses tea, lavender, hops, hemp and sunflowers.
There is not a shred of glass used in the construction. The panels are made out from the thermoplastic ETFE, several layers of thin UV-transparent ETFE film creating a large cushion. The ETFE material is incredible – resistant to most stains, it can be simply washed off with the rain. Any damage can be easily fixed with ETFE tape. The structure is self-supporting and the panels vary in sizes with the biggest once fitted at the top.
The Eden project is the world’s largest rainforest in captivity with steamy jungles and waterfalls, featuring incredible idea of human mind, showing some stunning gardens all year round, inviting to its education centre, showing the beauty of nature which is not available to anyone. When we were leaving I looked at the domes for the last time, seeing the fog slowly lifting up, giving the space to the disappearing sun, colouring the domes in red, promising fine and perfect for the beach day tomorrow.