THE EDEN PROJECT A CONTEMPORY VISITOR ATTRACTION OR THE SHAPE OF THINGS TO COME?
The Eden Project is located near St Blazey in Cornwall and built in an old Kaolinite china clay pit.
It was to be a glass house of the 21st century and was conceived by Tim Smit and Jonathon Ball, then together with Ronnie Murning( Edens now design and development director) sought funding from the millennium commission who at first rejected the project outright.
I Simply couldn’t face the loss of the dream at that point , and just went straight ahead and got going” Risk sharing like that forged a camaraderie that broke down the traditional barriers between designer and contractors- Creating a team dedicated to one vision.( Smit 2000 in Jackson 2001 pg 10)
The Architects Nicolas Grimshaws and partners were chosen to submit a proposal for the architectural design because of their experience in creating the large glass roof structure at Waterloo International Terminal London. The Organically inspired architecture of the Eden Project is seen as inventive, appropriate, and original.( Perrin 2002 on Galinsky) We can trace through Engineering history to a number of sources for the design of the biodomes. There has been a tradition of British glasshouse construction. Two examples are the Great Conservatory at Chatsworth House( Now Demolished ) and the Palm House at Kew Gardens. The techniques employed in glasshouse designs were taken up by builders of the great 19th century railway stations. The work of Richard Buckminster-Fuller was also a bearing on the biomes as he promoted the idea of geodesic domes, but perhaps the most significant is the work of Frei Otto, a German architect, who studied the interconnections of domes by inspecting the way soap bubbles form together. Otto designed tent like structures for the German pavilion at Expo 67. It is appropriate that the company which he then worked , Merro Structures, was the steel work contractor for the Eden Project. ( Davies, 2001 on Engineering Timelines) Although the Biomes resemble geodesic domes , they owe more to the inspirational work of the Victorian engineers in Britain.
The Associated engineer on the project was to be the celebrated Anthony Hunt who had worked with nearly all of the acclaimed architects of recent times. According to ( Dale, 2009 Engineering Timelines) His genius lay in how he re-imagined the possibilities of Industrial design. Hunt adopted the approach of engineers working in Britain who adopted a bi-disciplinary approach to collaborations with architects. His fluency with Industrialised production born out of the second world war, led to his capacity to produce highly engineered components that delivered sound structural results contributed to brisk clarity of the high tech, Modern and post Modern movements in this country. The Modern Movement produced functional , decoration free buildings that explored new technologies but also meant to do some social good.
The functionality of The Eden Project was to encompass the understanding of delicate eco systems that life depends, its structure is well thought out and reflects on its impact on its surroundings, unlike the idea based on the Utilitarian philosopher Jeremy Bentham , that of the Panopticon which was a kind of prison in which warders in the centre can see and control the prisoners, but the prisoners in their individual blocks and cells cannot see each other. This has been seen by later scholars as a key feature of Utilitarian thinking-the desire for social control.( Pugin, 1841). This is in stark contrast to the social thinking behind The Eden Project.