Eden Project— A TreeHugger Wonderland

Suppose learning about plants, ecosystems and sustainability was fun, inspiring and sometimes even rocked your socks off? That’s the idea behind the UK’s spectacular Eden Project, a 124 acre conservatory and herbarium housed in three dramatic glass domes in a former clay mine in Cornwall.

Eden Project’s unique approach takes it in some unusual directions for a nature center. The Project takes on eco-hip programs such as: hosting benefit rock concerts with artists like Moby, PJ Harvey, Primal Scream, Brian Wilson, and The Thrills; making sure that gift shop kitsch is eco-friendly (Edenstore is full of TreeHugger treasures); and using a world-famous design team to build a new nature center inspired by plant form and crafted from plant materials.

Not only does the Eden Project intend to educate about sustainability, the design and operation of the site is a model for eco-friendly living. The biomes themselves are noted for their energy efficient design, the energy used to run the facility is purchased from regional wind farms and the car fleet is almost entirely run on cleaner-burning propane. Plans are also in the works to convert one of their land trains to run on biodiesel. Local vendors provide the majority of the supplies for Eden Project, helping to invigorate the local economy and reduce transport energy.

if this place becomes no more than an upmarket theme park it will all have been the most gigantic waste of money. We intended to create something that not only encourages us to understand and to celebrate the world we live in, but also inspires us to action. Eden isn’t so much a destination as a place in the heart. It is not just a marvellous piece of science-related architecture; it is also a statement of our passionate belief in an optimistic future for mankind.
-- Dr Tony Kendle, Foundation Director, Eden Project
[By Erin Oliver]