Local Heart, Global Soul

October 23, 2014

From A Doodle On A Paper Napkin… And The Bubble Doesn’t Burst!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Imagine sitting in a pub and sketching out an idea on a paper napkin… you are with friends and you expand on your doodle and talk about the idea, and slowly it dawns on you that maybe this is a plan that could be put into action.

The year of the napkin doodle was 1995 and Tim Schmit’s idea was to showcase the world’s most important plants, but to do it in an ecologically friendly and sustainably  manner.

A massive space would be needed, but there was a working china clay quarry nearby that was nearing the end of it’s economic life  and so when the possibility of the location and the idea came together the “Eden Project” was born.

The climate in the UK, even in the southern area of Devon would clearly not be suitable for many of the world’s plants,  so the problem arose:  What sort of building are you going to put them in?

Inspiration came from the design of  the London terminus of the Eurostar train service:  Waterloo International railway station had been rebuilt in 1994, but getting a similar,  seriously large structure into the confines of the lumpy terrain of an old quarry  was another matter, so the building evolved into one that looked like a giant bubble, and then a series of bubbles because this was a form that could accommodate the difficulties that the terrain posed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The base of the quarry sits 15 meters below the water table, so a special drainage system had to be devised.

The “bubbles” now called “Biomes” would require 230 miles of scaffolding, earning them an entry into the Guinness Book of Records.

The abseilers who help install the massive panels in the domes earn themselves the nickname of “sky monkeys” and then the plants start to arrive.

The are over one thousand plants in the Rainforest dome alone, grown from seed in the projects nursery, from  botanic gardens, research stations and supporters.

The doors open for the first time on the 17 March 2001… the Eden Project has gone from a doodle on a pub paper napkin to reality.

There is a large car park outside the quarry, people are encouraged to take the eco-friendly option and walk down into the quarry. The parking area for campers and buses however is further along and since I’m on crutches there is a staff member driving a little golf cart like vehicle to take us down to the main entrance point. From the main entrance building there is a second, far larger land train to take car and bus passengers to the bottom of the quarry if they choose not to walk down. I have to ration my walking time so we take this one too… We, like millions of visitors before us have arrived at the Eden Project!…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

 

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