Skip to main content

Sir Tim Smit KBE

Co-founder of Eden Project and Executive Vice Chair of EPL

Sir Tim Smit KBE was born in Holland on 25 September 1954. He read Archaeology and Anthropology at Durham University. Tim worked for ten years in the music industry as composer/producer in both rock music and opera.

A picture of Sir Tim Smit in one of biomes surrounded by purple and orange flowers

Tim Smit's background

In 1987 Tim moved to Cornwall where he and John Nelson together ‘discovered’ and then restored the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Tim remains a Director of the gardens to the present day.

Tim is Executive Vice-Chair, and Co-founder of the award-winning Eden Project near St Austell in Cornwall. Eden began as a dream in 1995 and opened its doors to the public in 2000, since when more than 19 million people have come to see what was once a sterile pit turned into a cradle of life containing world-class horticulture and startling architecture symbolic of human endeavour.


Eden has contributed over £1.9 billion into the Cornish economy. Eden is proud of its success in changing people’s perception of the potential for and the application of science, by communicating and interpreting scientific concepts through the use of art, drama and storytelling as well as living up to its mission to take a pivotal role in local regeneration. It demonstrates once and for all that sustainability is not about sandals and nut cutlets, it is about good business practice and the citizenship values of the future. 

Tim is a Trustee, Patron and Board Member of a number of statutory and voluntary bodies both locally and nationally. He has received a variety of national awards including The Royal Society of Arts Albert Medal (2003). In 2002 he was awarded an Honorary CBE in the New Years Honours List and in June 2012 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (KBE) by Her Majesty the Queen. He has received Honorary Doctorates and Fellowships from a number of Universities.

Tim has taken part in many television and radio programmes and has been the subject of ‘This is Your Life’ and a guest on ‘Desert Island Discs’. He is a regular speaker at conferences, dinners, Awards Ceremonies and other events. Tim is the author of books about The Lost Gardens of Heligan (voted 'Book of the Year' in 1997 by the Sunday Times) and the Eden Project and he has contributed to publications on a wide variety of subjects. He lives in Cornwall and in his free time he enjoys reading, film, music and art. 

Tim is also Executive Chairman for Eden Project International which aims to have an Eden Project on every habited continent by 2025.

An introduction to the Eden Project from Tim Smit

Sir Tim Smit's Kitchen Table Conversations

In 2020, Sir Tim Smit sat down to chat to some guests about how can we migrate to a future that’s truly sustainable, but still fun? 

Below you can view Sir Tim Smit in conversation with Kathelin Gray and Matt Wolf, about the documentary film Spaceship Earth, which chronicles the Biosphere 2 project.

Sir Tim Smit in conversation with Kathleen Gray and Matt Wolf