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.