Sneak preview of games at Shaun the Sheep: Championsheeps Live

March 31, 2011
Author: Tom

We've got a treat for all those Shaun the Sheep fans in training for our Championsheeps Live farmyard sports event over the Easter holidays. Here’s a sneaky peek of some of the games we’re setting up at Eden:

A giant Shirley: part of the Flock 'n' Roll game. You’ll work in teams to roll a giant Shirley like this around the obstacle course. The first team to push their Shirley in the bath wins!

In the Farmyard Fling game the Farmer is keeping an eye on everyone with his ‘farmer scarecrows’ (shown above). Try knocking their vegetable  heads off by throwing wellie boots.

In the Free Range game you'll need to lift the chickens (pictured) and see what you find: if it’s a chick, take it back to the safety of the henhouse; if it’s an egg, balance it on your wooden spoon and take it to the basket.

Find out about all the games on the Shaun the Sheep: Championsheeps Live page.

And…here’s a funny video of Eden staff in training for the Championsheeps, bouncing around the Eden Project on Shirley Sheephoppers!

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Events, Fun, Play
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Room made of plants on display at flower show

March 31, 2011
Author: Hannah

This weekend sees a slice of Eden in bloom at the Cornwall Garden Society Spring Flower Show.

For the event, the Eden team has created a 10th birthday display garden, The Living Room, in which the soft furnishings and just about everything else is made from plants. The centrepiece will be a cake stand made of tin, representing the importance of mining in Cornwall; and a cake with birthday candles.

Alistair Griffiths, from Eden's Horticultural team, explains: 'The overall essence of it is to show that when you’re sat in your living room, everything around you originates from plants.

'The living room is also the place where families get together and share their lives and we’d like to remind people of this simple pleasure and not to always reach for the TV remote.'

With sustainability in mind, the plants are sourced as locally as possible, the walls and books are built from salvaged wood and the furniture was donated by staff. You'll also spot a beautiful boat which doubles as shelves, and a hearth grate woven out of plant fibres harvested here at our gardens.

The plan is to bring the display back to Eden after the show, for visitors to enjoy.

The event takes place at Boconnoc House, near Lostwithiel, on Saturday 2 April and Sunday 3 April. Visit for more details.

The Living Room garden display

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Eden's 10th birthday, Horticulture
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Sophie Thomas: There's no such thing as waste

March 31, 2011
Author: Guest

10th birthday
What have the giant WEEE Man at
Eden and a citizens advice book from 1942 got in common? Designer Sophie Thomas reveals the answer. And reminds us that there really is no such thing as waste. 10th birthday

As a designer involved in the shaping of things, I remember being so excited to hear about the reclamation of a quarry in Cornwall for such a great project as Eden.

Back there for a design conference last month, sitting in the dappled shade of the WEEE Man, it certainly felt like a bright, re-purposed and creative place that inspires change. Eden seems to show us a glimpse of things as they could be.

WEEE Man at the Eden Project

I’m glad to see this giant robot, made of electronic waste, now residing here permanently to remind us about what happens to things when we’ve finished with them.

He set me thinking that we’re actually filling most of our holes in the ground not with more beautiful Eden Projects, but with a huge amount of landfill.

Electrical waste

He also reminded me of a book that my mum lent me. It’s a publication that all households were given in 1942 as a reference on how to live in times of rationing and the tight regulations of War.

Citizen Advice Notes

The most interesting section for me is around salvage; it was forbidden to use it paper for unnecessary advertising or to throw it away. That’s quite a leap to the 550,000 tonnes of direct marketing that gets landfilled every year in the UK.

Citizens Advice Notes

Even as new products begin their lives they’ve already used up a lot of the Earth’s resources and created a huge amount of waste, for example through their extraction from the earth, or their manufacturing.

It’s what environmentalists call an object’s ‘ecological rucksack’. For instance a gold ring weighing just 5g has around 2 tonnes of raw materials behind it and even a plastic disposable toothbrush has a rucksack of 1.5kg.

So many things around us are designed without thinking about how we can recover the valuable materials inside. For instance my disposable toothbrush is created by heat molding at least three different types of plastic together, making it impossible to recycle.

The materials that go into one toothbrush

Products tend to reach the end of their lives pretty quickly too. According to leading material scientists, 90% of the things we buy end up in the waste stream within six months.

Mixed waste in a landfill site

I’ve been to quite a few landfill and waste reclamation sites in the last few years, and the processing of waste (or ‘resource’ as it is now more accurately called) is making progress, but there is still a lot to do.

Taking London’s waste to the landfill and recovery site in Rainham by barge

That’s why today, as a designer, I’m working on how to get back all those useful materials embedded in my products and outcomes so we can use them again easily. This concept is inspired by nature and is called ‘cradle to cradle’ design.

By recovering the product’s pure raw materials from the waste stream as different ‘nutrients’, these precious resources are re-usable as something else in the future.

Autumn leaves

My industry is at a pivotal moment. We can sit back and shrug our shoulders, pushing the responsibilities back on to manufacturers and consumers or we take on the challenge ourselves, creating amazing things that help shift behaviour and shape the type of world we want to see.

Founding director of thomas.matthews, the UK pioneers in sustainable communication design, Sophie Thomas plays a vocal part in promoting sustainable thinking. She is also Co-founder of social enterprise Three Trees Don’t Make a Forest and of greengaged, an organisation that creates events and networks to encourage the debate around sustainable design.

Find out how Eden is following a Waste Neutral philosophy to reduce landfill and is working with the mining industry to help tackle the environmental impact of metals and minerals extraction.

Eden's 10th anniversary

Creativity, Design, Eden's 10th birthday, Recycling and waste, Sustainability
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Explorer Monty Halls picks his most precious square mile on Earth

March 30, 2011
Author: Guest

10th birthdayMonty Halls
Explorer Monty Halls has ventured to some incredible – and often threatened – corners of the world. Today, for Eden, he picks just one place that he would preserve above all else.10th birthday

If there is one square mile on planet Earth I had to save – aside from Twickenham rugby stadium of course (or HQ, as us unbearably pompous ex-public school types insist on calling it) – it’d be Aliwal Shoal in South Africa.

Imagine flying a small plane along the coast of Natal, a burning shore of beaches and mighty rivers passing the window in blur, and soon enough you’d fly over a relatively non-descript patch of ocean off the mouth of the Umkomaas River. Below your plane, though, beneath the water, lies a place as magical as any fantasy kingdom...

Aliwal Shoal is a mountain of sandstone rising from the seabed to jut into the blood-warm waters of the Benguela Current as it streams south along the African coast. This current is a conveyor belt for big animals, following timeless migratory routes that existed long before man emerged from the Rift Valleys, and will continue long after we have become another seam in the fossil record.

Because the mountain is sandstone, it has been worn away over millennia to become pockmarked with caves and caverns, honeycombed with tunnels, and pitted with crevices.

SharkThis is a realm of the great African sharks – the bull, the great white, the tiger, the hammerhead – that soar around its peak and glide along its reefs. Humpback whales pass overhead, turtles and dolphins break the surface, and rays fly over rock faces coated with life that come from both temperate and tropical waters.

Crammed onto and around this mountain top are more than 1,100 fish species, while corals and sponges jostle for position on rock faces exposed to great currents that roar like the jet stream shrieking past a mountain peak.

I’ve never found anywhere like it on Earth, never found a place that so typifies wild Africa, and that’s why Aliwal would be my choice.

As for the Eden Project, all I can do is wish you well, and tip my hat in admiration. May you have many, many more successful years doing your important work.

Monty Halls is a writer, explorer and television presenter, best-known for his Great Escape series. Diving is a passion of his; he runs diving trips and has written several books on the marine environment.

Find out about Eden's conservation work in the Seychelles, a tropical island paradise under threat.

10th birthday

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Eden's 10th birthday, Environment

Mike Berners-Lee: climate change doesn't mean less fun

March 29, 2011
Author: Guest

10th birthdayMike Berners-LeeAs Eden celebrates its 10th birthday, we asked carbon guru Mike Berners-Lee to get out his calculator and design us the ideal party that scores high on fun and low on emissions.10th birthday

Climate change stories aren't often positive, but I've got some good news: we can have at least as good a time in a lower carbon world.

I've put together the ingredients for a fantastic all-night party that comes in at under 6kg, far less than the 20kg average that we Brits rack up on an ordinary day.

The party calculation takes in everything from ironing your glad rags, to drinking lovely local beer, to getting there by lift sharing or bike, to an hour's wild dancing (fuelled by mainly carbohydrate and seasonal fruit and veg) to enjoying the company of friends (0kg).

It even includes that essential morning-after cup of tea (3/4 of which is down to the milk). What a bargain. We should have more fun more often.

Low-carbon party

Of course your party footprint could be very different: You buy an outfit that you only use one, drive there by yourself in a hummer, bloat yourself on Peruvian asparagus and steak and hot-house strawberries all night, drink wines and beers from the far corners of the world.

At the end of the night mountains of food and half-opened drinks are chucked into landfill and down drains.

This party works out at around 50 kg CO2e per head - but doesn’t sound any more fun.

High-carbon party

Mike Berners-Lee is an expert in greenhouse gas footprinting and author of How Bad Are Bananas?: The carbon footprint of everything. He's Director of Small World Consulting, which helps organisations embrace the climate-change agenda.

Find out how Eden is reducing its own carbon footprint through cleverly designed buildings, efficient heating systems and even plans for a geothermal power plant onsite.

Eden's 10th anniversary

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Celebrations, Eden's 10th birthday, Environment, Sustainability
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Cornwall’s first sustainable construction conference comes to Eden in April

March 28, 2011
Author: Hannah

We're proud to be hosting Cornwall's first ever green building conference here at the Eden Project on 8-9 April 2011.

Convened by the Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust, the free event will give visitors the chance see an eco timber-framed building in the flesh here on site, as well as a demonstration of a food waste converter. There'll also be a range of seminars taking place in our own low-carbon buildings such as the Core.

During the two days, visitors will find:

  • Information on solar hot water, solar electricity, biomass boilers, wind power systems and heat pump options – plus material on the Feed in Tariff and the Renewable Heat Incentive.
  • An exhibition of local construction suppliers that have adapted their operations to meet the growing green building market.
  • Information on training and career development opportunities in the renewable sector throughout the country.
  • Free seminars exploring issues such as low-impact building and recycled building materials, living roofs, waste minimisation and retrofitting. These are aimed at construction industry delegates on the Friday, while Saturday's seminars will be of interest to the general public.

To find out more about the seminars or register for free attendance, contact the Cornwall Sustainable Building Trust (CSBT) on 01726 64651 or, or visit the CSBT website.

The Core

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Construction, Cornwall, Sustainability
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Create your own Eden – tips from Eden's architect Nick Grimshaw

March 28, 2011
Author: Guest

10th birthdayNicholas Grimshaw
Create your own Eden. Nicholas Grimshaw, architect of Eden’s famous Biomes, on 10 simple things you can do to make the world a better place.10th birthday

I’d like to wish all my friends and collaborators at Eden a very happy 10th birthday and to contribute this little homily of ten things we could all do.

It’s called Doubling and Halving and it goes like this:

Halve the amount we eat,
Double the amount we walk,

Halve the amount of electricity we use,
Double our layers of clothing,

Halve the paper we use,
Double the number of trees we plant,

Halve the number of things we scrap,
Double the amount we grow,

Halve the new clothes we buy,
Double what we give to others.

Simple really! A very happy next 10 years to everybody who has ever been to Eden and everybody who is about to go.

Founder of Grimshaw Architects, Sir Nicholas Grimshaw is the architect behind the Eden Project's iconic buildings, including the Biomes and the Core. His practice is known for creating modernist structures around the world, such as the futuristic-looking Lords Cricket Ground grandstand and the Berlin Stock Exchange.

See original designs for the Biomes in our photographic timeline of Eden's first decade.

Biome structure

Eden's 10th anniversary

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Architecture, Celebrations, Eden's 10th birthday
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Wayne Hemingway: how to design free range kids

March 26, 2011
Author: Guest

10th birthdayWayne Hemingway
Designer Wayne Hemingway on how to create a world where refuse is a thing of the past, communities share scraps of land, and kids run free.10th birthday

1. Design for ‘free range kids’
I have fond memories of my family’s early home in a tower block, where we kids would play cricket and ‘cardboard’ down the steep man-made hills of the surrounding landscaped park.

All too often in the UK we stick ‘no ball game’ signs up in our open spaces and force kids inside to watch the idiot box or play on game consoles. When they’re old enough to drink we stop them having a beer in a park while kicking a football around, and coerce them into pubs where there’s little other to do than get plastered.

We seem to be designing out all the freedom that my generation enjoyed, in the name of health and safety. We’re also swallowing up every bit of spare with infill development. Where can kids build dens today, where can they learn about risk?

A Freiburg Action SpaceWe could learn a lot from Freiburg, in Germany, where the municipality is planning to remove all its 150 fixed equipment playgrounds and replace them with Action Spaces – simply a couple of mounds, some sand, rocks, a few tree stumps, a water pump and some dirt (right).

The kids are loving getting filthy. And the council – well, it’s loving the fact that Action Spaces cost half the price of a conventional playground.

2. Buildings that get us talking to each other

My wife grew up in a workers’ terrace in Padiham, Lancashire, whose tiny backyard opened on to the communal ‘rec’. Today the community still play, celebrate birthdays and sunbathe (well, on leap years when it’s hot!)

When our company was invited by George Wimpey to design the kind of environments I had been calling for in the press, we toured the world and found dozens of brilliantly thought-out high-density housing developments, from Malmo in Sweden to Leidsche Rijn in Holland to Perth in Australia.

Are we so different in the UK that we can’t live like our this too? Why not design small back gardens with gates that can be left open onto communal gardens, where people can use a Staiths South Bank, Gatesheadcommunal barbeque or try a bit of communal veg growing?

Why not send our cars off into parking courts and release the streets to walk, cycle and play in?

If the Europeans can do it, then so can we – and we are proving it at the Staiths South Bank in Gateshead (right).

3. Good old-fashioned re-use
Drop the ‘f’ from refuse and what do you get? Re-use. For us trendy designer types, it’s a clever play on words and an opportunity to be creative with typeface. But for my nan’s generation re-use wasn’t novel, it was everyday thrifty behaviour.

The last bits of soap were melted together to create new multicoloured exotic bars, newspaper was ripped up to provide winter protection for strawberry plants, socks were darned.

Wayne Hemingway's treehouseThe concept of passing down good things to future generations is embedded in all species as a way to survive. It’s only recently that people seem to have pushed these instincts into a corner where they can’t find them.

In my own house we get so much joy from a pair of sofas fashioned from the wreck of an old wooden fishing boat, from a tepee made of old telegraph poles… And what the kids love most in our garden is thetree house made of flotsam and jetsam from the beach (right).

p.s. When I visited Eden it was:
exciting, stimulating, ambitious, fun, memorable

Wayne Hemingway is bringing his Vintage Festival to the Southbank Centre from 29 – 31 July 2011 as part of the Festival of Britain 60th anniversary celebrations. Over three days and nights, Vintage will celebrate the music, fashion, film, art, dance, design and cultural lineages from the 1920s to the 1980s that have made Britain the world’s creative and cultural hotbed.

Learn more about Eden’s own programme to encourage ‘free range kids’, Mud Between Your Toes and the annual nationwide neighbourhood get-together that we kickstarted, The Big Lunch.

Eden's 10th anniversary

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Celebrations, Creativity, Design, Eden's 10th birthday

Brazil nut tree joins the ranks in Rainforest Biome

March 25, 2011
Author: Hannah

Sir Ghillean Prance and Tim SmitWe’ve an exciting new addition to our Rainforest Biome: a baby Brazil nut tree. The shiny, green sapling was planted to commemorate our 10th birthday by none other than Sir Ghillean Prance, a world authority on rainforest plants and Eden’s Scientific Director.

Hetty Ninnis, Eden’s Supervisor for the Rainforest Biome, said: ‘To be able to celebrate such a great landmark with one of the most esteemed tropical botanists of our time meant such a lot to the Rainforest Team.’

The Brazil nut tree joins our huge collection of trees that feed, clothe and tool the world, including rubber, cola, balsa and banana.

Top facts about the Brazil nut

  • Native to Central and South America, Brazil nut trees are one of the largest in the Amazon Rainforests, growing up to 30–45 metres tall and 1–2 metres wide across the trunk.
  • Brazil nuts are harvested from the wild rather than from plantations. It’s a good example of income from tropical forests that doesn’t involve destroying the trees.
  • Only the long-tongued orchid bee is able to pollinate the tree. This insect is strong enough to lift the hood and has an extended proboscis that reaches into the complex coiled flowers.
  • We don’t just eat Brazil nuts; the oil is also used for making artists’ paints, clock lubricants and cosmetics.

See more photos of our Rainforest Biome.

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Celebrations, Eden's 10th birthday
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‘We’re a bunch of Sinatras, madly doing it Our Way’: Tim Smit on Eden’s first decade

March 25, 2011
Author: Guest

10th birthdayTim Smit
After the birthday celebrations, Co-founder Tim Smit reflects on Eden’s first decade - and comes to the happy conclusion that 'we’re a bunch of Sinatras, madly doing it Our Way'.10th birthday

Eden’s 10th; it sounds like a concerto – which is very appropriate, because we like to think of ourselves at Eden as an orchestra playing from the ‘pit’, bringing all our different talents.

Eden's first decadeAs the day dawned on 17 March 2011, I felt bittersweet. Pleased at the moment, yet strangely muted at the pause for thought, reflecting on the friends who hadn’t completed the journey with us. But I suppose that is an Eden thing too, a desire for a rounded completeness.

It brought back memories, too, of the Last Night of the Proms, staged at Eden four days after 9/11. Not a dry eye in the house. Shorn of its triumphalism, the sombre Adagio by Barber brought the night to a close and, amidst the melancholy, was joy at feeling so much and being side by side with those you loved and admired. But we were aware of feeling something bigger than the personal; belonging to a tribe of some kind, which had no name, but existed despite that.

I suppose the lesson is that joy can come from adversity and is the keener for it – and Eden has supplied numerous such moments. Each time the real pleasure is seeing the team rise to the occasion, whether it be the battling McAlpine’s crew who redbuilt the Visitor Centre in just six weeks after the foundations slid into the pit in 1999; or seeing the team put on Live 8 with the whole world watching; or marvelling at the clean up after the flood.

We’re a bunch of Sinatras, madly doing it ‘Our Way’, but it works and perhaps my greatest pleasure is in knowing that no amount of analysis can quite explain how. Magic. And long may it continue.

Photos, top to bottom: KT Tunstall drops in for a surprise gig on Eden's 10th birthday; Last Night of the Proms at Eden in 2001; up against the rain during the build; Live 8 at Eden in 2005; cleaning up after the flood in 2010.

Tim is Co-founder and CEO of the Eden Project, and Director of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which he found and restored after 10 years as a composer/producer in the music industry.

See how Eden was transformed from a clay pit to a renowned tourist attraction and educational charity. Browse the photographic timeline.

Eden's 10th anniversary

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Celebrations, Eden's 10th birthday
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