Tactile map of Eden created for people with visual impairments

July 19, 2011
Author: Hannah

Today saw the unveiling of a beautiful wooden scale model of Eden Project that allows people with visual impairments to experience the site’s famous landscape and architecture.

Complete with Biomes and planting schemes, the map is the handiwork of Lauren Milton, who created it on her model-making course at The Arts University College of Bournemouth.

Lauren was looking for a final year project that would allow her to experiment with environmentally friendly materials, rather than the usual chemical-based resin used for models. She decided to make the map, more than one metre long, entirely out of wood offcuts, including beech, mahogany, ash, cedar and oak, whose textured bark forms a chunky surround.

Lauren (below, far right) also opted for Eden because she relished the challenge of creating the site’s huge variety of shapes and textures. ‘The Biomes were really difficult,’ she admits. ‘I’ve certainly learnt all about geodesic structures!’

These were created using a digitally automated mill, which gouged out the shapes accurately following the dimensions provided by a computer-based model. Many of the other elements, however, were shaped by hand and assembled onto the base. Finally, the model was covered in beeswax, for a smooth finish.

Tactile maps are widely used as a way-finding mechanism for people with visual impairments, explains the Sensory Trust’s Stuart Spurring (below, left), who came to today’s unveiling.

But this one goes beyond a simple map with raised sections, to offer ‘a whole experience and context of the place’, he says. ‘With its different textures and beautiful appearance it also offers sighted visitors a perspective of Eden that they wouldn’t normally get.’

Thanks to Lauren’s work on the Eden tactile map, she has now been commissioned to create something similar for the National Trust’s Stourhead house and garden, in Wiltshire.

Come and have a good feel of the new Eden model in the Visitor Centre, where it has been installed for easy viewing from wheelchair height.


3 responses to Tactile map of Eden created for people with visual impairments

  1. Greeta Ahart says:

    Gorgeous! I am a tactile cartographer and my maps are paper or thermoform. I can’t get the detail on min that you have!! Brava on your wonderful project – how wonderful that blind & visually impaired can plan their trip around Eden!!

  2. Carol Heathcote says:

    Eden has many wonderful qualities, one of which is that it is all inclusive. Members of the Access Team can provide a detailed verbal description of what a blind visitor may not be able to see, but this tactile map will surely add to the experience of visually impaired people and I think it’s excellent. To “feel” your way around Eden before going down into the pit can only make the day better! Well done and thanks to Lauren, and I wish her continued success in the future.

  3. Lauren Milton says:

    Thankyou very much for the lovely comments. Im really happy to be working in such a valuable area. If you would like to ask any further questions about future projects please contact me at create@laurenmilton.org. Im currently working on another commission so keep a look out!

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