Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The Eden Project - posting 2 ( the Mediterranean biome)

A few more photos of the Eden Project. This time the Mediterranean biome.  The cooler environment was a relief after the Rainforest.  Here's a cafe where you can sit on cushions amongst the olive trees and drink espresso. 

The biome covers Italy of course but also South Africa and California.
Yucca Whippiei. The design of the yucca flower is such that it can only be pollinated by the yucca moth which is exactly the right size and shape.  The moth also lays her eggs in pollinated flowers and the emerging caterpillars eat some of the seeds. This is a magnificent example of co-evolution.

And then into the Core. This is where I was a little disappointed. There were a couple of things to play with but it was mostly static exhibitions.

I did however enjoy this wall of fridge doors, with hundreds of letters. You left messages of course, but they were temporary, and were destroyed as others came along and cannibalised your message for the letters!  You might recognize the bit of WH Auden's poetry I put on the door, from a recent textile piece,....but the "Sunday Rest" was turned into the "Sunday Roast" by my dearly beloved.

The third biome is the outdoor space.  The quarry itself is a biome and has a pathway which zig zags along the sides working it's way from top to bottom.  In this space are a number of sculptures and miniature different environments; a selection of allotments, Cornwall's wilder side with primroses and gorses. The flowerless garden shows evolution from the earliest mosses to ferns and horsetails that grew in hot steamy conditions over 350 million years ago.  They created coal as they rotted.  The first flowering plants were Magnolia and Drimys and the Wollemi pine.

Finally a bit about the soil and how the bioms are made.

The started with none, but with the help of Reading University made over 83,000 tonnes.  The mineral part came from mine wastes (sand and clay). In the Biomes, composted bark provided organic matter that could hold water and nutrients. The slower growers in the Mediterranean used a sandier mix .  No nutrients were used for the South African Fynbos where fertile soil is toxic to some plants.

The soils were mixed with a JCB in a nearby china clay pit and worms were added as they help to dig through the soil and fertilize it.

The Biomes
The Eden Project got into the Guinness Book of Records for using 230 miles of scaffolding! The biomes are really just big conservatories, but because of the irregular shape and uneven surfaces of the quarry, bubbles were used because they can shape to any surface.

There's a two layer, curved space frame with an outer layer of hexagons, up to 11 metres across, and an inner layer of hexagons and triangles bolted together.  The steelwork apparently weighs slightly more than the air contained by the Biomes. Amazing.  Apparently they are more likely to blow away than fall down so are tied with ground anchors.

The "windows" are made from (forgive me for copying this bit) Ethylenetetrafluoroethylenecopolymer. Phew! (nb when I put that into the spellcheck it comes up with Polythene!!)  It's in three layers which are inflated to make 2 metre deep pillows with a lifespan of about 25 years. They are non stick, self cleaning, they transmit UV light and weigh less than 1% of the same area of glass, but are strong enough to take the weight of a car. Something which is comforting to those folk climbing the stairs to the roof!

1 comment:

  1. Is there going to be a part 3? Did you see the dyers plant area? I was the bit which excited me the most. I loved the smell of the rain forest, it took me back to my childhood.
    I agree it is all so dumbed down it deflates its worth.