Eden opens its £15m learning 'cathedral'

Opening of ground-breaking education centre heralds renewed focus for Cornwall's Eden Project

The £15 million Eden Project education biome has opened, promising to refocus the £133 million botanical attraction in Cornwall. Eden did not have enough funding to build a dedicated education centre when it opened in 2001 but now hopes to fulfil its educational role better in The Core, the new biome designed by architect Nicholas Grimshaw. The design is based on the Fibonacci spiral, a pattern found in the seeds of sunflower heads and pine cones, as well as in Dan Brown’s bestseller, The Da Vinci Code. Among the exhibits is the Plant Engine, a model of photosynthesis in which a giant lamp representing the sun rises and falls above a huge glass sphere full of real plants. Director of learning Jo Readman said: “From the start, education has always been at the core of the Eden Project, but it has never had a special home. As an educational project, the public expected it to have an education centre. We wanted a building the shape of a sunflower and the size of a spaceship. “It had to be a monument to the plant engine which powers the earth. The Core is the result. This is the first time in my life that I have looked at something and said that I am fully satisfied with it.” Eden chief executive Tim Smit said: “This is the finest modern building in the world and anyone who says they can show me a better-looking one is either a liar or clairvoyant. “I could give you a lot of guff about inspirational education and the success of the Eden Project, the genius of the architects and the artists involved, but it boils down to one thing. This building is a cathedral — it moves you and fills you with awe.” The new building will be home to exhibitions, events and schools programmes. Until now, the educational programmes at Eden have been based in three tents.

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