Friday, September 18, 2015 - 12:00

The Eden Project is set to sign an historic agreement this Sunday (September 20 2015) to create a spectacular new £100 million China Eden centre in what will be its first big building venture overseas.

The UK-based educational charity is teaming up with the leading developer China Jinmao Holdings Limited to design and develop an iconic tourism and education project in the major city of Qingdao on the east coast of the People's Republic of China.

A contract is due to be signed at the British Ambassador's Residence in Beijing on Sunday in the presence of UK Business Secretary Sajid Javid, as part of Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne's visit to develop economic and financial dialogue with China.

The four signatories of the China Qingdao Eden Project Cooperation Agreement Signing Ceremony are Eden Project Ltd, China Jinmao Holdings Limited, Qingdao High-tech Industrial Development Zone Administrative and Qingdao City Construction Investment (Group) Co. Ltd.

Eden will be represented by Executive Vice Chairman and Co-founder Sir Tim Smit and Executive Director David Harland, who have been working over the past 14 months on this historic deal for the project.

Announcing the China Eden agreement today, Sir Tim said it will be by far the biggest development for the Eden Project since it fully opened in a former clay pit in Cornwall in 2001.

Sir Tim said: "This is a hugely exciting moment for Eden and its partners in this great venture. The ambition for China Eden is to create a globally-renowned and iconic tourism attraction and centre which demonstrates the highest-quality sustainable construction practices - just as Eden has in the UK.

"The location for China Eden is a stunning one with stupendous views of the whole city. This project fits perfectly with Eden's key transformation and regeneration themes and brings life to a currently sterile and derelict site. It has the potential to become instantly recognisable worldwide. Think Sydney Opera House in its scale, creativity and instant recognition."

Sir Tim added: "We have been approached many times before to create Eden projects, but have always declined as we did not wish to copy Eden in Cornwall. This opportunity is exciting because our partners share our view that we should build a project that builds on 4,000 years of Chinese relations with the environment and Eden's fresh approach to education."

David Harland said: "Eden has worked extremely hard alongside its partners to get to this key moment. We believe that this historic agreement to build the first Eden Project overseas is a sure-fire winner not just for Qingdao and Eden but for UK PLC and China too."

Since fully opening, more than 16 million people have visited Eden and it has generated £1.6 billion for the wider economy. Among many awards, it has been voted Best UK Leisure Attraction for the last four years and it was recently hailed as the top British landmark of the 21st Century.

As an exemplar of sustainability and education, Eden has been extending its influence in China over several years. The Eden China agreement follows visits by Jinmao delegations to Cornwall and return visits by Sir Tim and David Harland to Qingdao.

Jinmao are the real estate developers of the state-owned Sinochem group, one of the world's top 500 enterprises, and focus on  hotels, iconic buildings and property developments, including the Jinmao Tower in Shanghai, previously China's tallest building at 88 storeys.
Qingdao is a coastal city of nearly nine million people in Shandong Province, halfway between Shanghai and Beijing. The city is backed by mountains and surrounded on three sides by the Yellow Sea. It is famous for hosting the 2008 Olympic sailing races, for having the largest bathing beach in Asia and for its most famous export, Tsingtao Beer. Qingdao already has annual tourism of 63 million visitors, many of whom are Korean and Japanese.

Eden and Jinmao have been consulting on China Eden with the Mayor of Qingdao, Mr Zhang Xinqi. The site is on a prime location, a large area of reclaimed and environmentally-damaged land originally used for salt production and then prawn breeding and is located at the confluence of two rivers.

Developing China Eden, Eden is also working with BRE, the Buildings and Research Establishment, which has an office at Eden's base in Cornwall, and London-based Grimshaw Architects, who designed the Eden Project, including the world-famous Rainforest and Mediterranean Biomes.