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Calling Planet Earth – The Da Vinci Code Building has landed

The greatest moment in the Eden Project's history since the opening of the world's biggest plant Biomes dawns today (Monday September 19) with the unveiling of the monumental £15 million education centre known as The Core.

The Millennium Commission Lottery funded Eden Project is all about plants, people and learning and the talismanic building, the first of its kind in the world, reflects the miracles of nature in its breathtaking structure and highly-original works of art. The design is based on the fundamental rule of how plants grow, incorporating a central trunk and canopy roof that shades the ground and harvests the sun. The most striking feature - the roof created from an intricate web of curved timber beams - is based on Fibonacci spirals, a pattern found in many natural forms including the seeds of a sunflower head, pine cones and snail shells.

The Fibonacci sequence plays an integral role in Dan Brown's global bestseller The Da Vinci Code as Harvard professor Robert Langdon tackles the secret of the Holy Grail. The book is now being made into a film starring Tom Hanks.

Among the remarkable exhibits is a vast ground-floor display called 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. The sphere then pumps oxygen through connecting tubes to bring to "life" a series of automata in bell jars.

The Core has taken two years to construct at a cost of £15 million. Major sponsors are the Millennium Commission (£10.5 million), South West Regional Development Agency (£2.9 million) and Objective One (£1 million), with the balance coming from a number of smaller contributors. It has been designed and built by many of the same team who delivered the Humid Tropics and Warm Temperate Biomes, and will now take its place alongside them as a global icon.

Eden's chief executive Tim Smit said today: "I hate exaggeration so I'll tell you the simple truth. 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 and it moves you and fills you with awe."

The new building will be home to exhibitions, events for all, and Eden's pioneering schools programmes. Until now the programmes have been based in three tents on the other side of the vast bowl of the former china clay quarry.

The Eden team behind The Core is led by Director of Learning Jo Readman and General Manager George Elworthy. Joint venture contractors are Alfred McAlpine and Sir Robert McAlpine, employing architects Nicholas Grimshaw & Partners, engineers SKM Anthony Hunts and Buro Happold, and Land Use Consultants.

Devon-based artist Peter Randall-Page has played a key role in the design and is now fashioning a 160-tonne lump of granite into a seed shape which when finished will be lowered by crane into The Core's central chamber.

Hailing The Core as Eden's greatest achievement since the project opened in March 2001, Jo Readman said today: "We have waited a long time for this wonderful moment. 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 and I can say that this is the first time in my life I have looked at something and said that I am fully satisfied with it. Nature has a fundamental blueprint which goes beyond DNA. We have translated that blueprint into the structure of this amazing building."

The Core is a model of sustainability. The structure is a network of double-curved beams from Forestry Stewardship Council-sourced spruce from Switzerland. The copper for the roof panels comes from a single source - one of the world's most sustainable mines, in Kennecott, Utah. The wall tiles are made of Devon clay and are decorated with the handprints of visitors who helped make them.

Jo Readman said: "The Core communicates on many different levels and is for everyone. It is designed to provoke curiosity and breathe fresh air into learning. The Core is about synergy and collaboration - how people working together can achieve more than the sum of our parts."

For further information please contact Laura Tregonning of Deborah Clark and Associates Ltd on 01872 276276 or email:

The Objective One Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly has invested in Eden New Works – The Learning Zone through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).


Editor's notes:

  The Core has taken two years to construct at a cost of £15 million. Major sponsors are the Millennium Commission (£10.5 million), South West Regional Development Agency (£2.9 million) and the European Regional Development Fund, via Objective One (£1 million). Other donations have come from The Energy Saving Trust, EDF Energy, The Bernard Sunley Charitable Foundation, Kellogs and Misses Barrie Charitable Trust.
  In addition to The Core, the £25m Phase 4 programme includes the following new/upgrade works to the existing facilities: Additional roads and car parks, waste recycling centre, staff facilities building, Biome link alterations, link canopy, visitor centre street works and staff facilities
  Eden Project Limited is owned by the Eden Trust, which is a fully registered UK Charity (No. 1093070)
  The Millennium Commission Lottery grant contributed £55.4 million to the £133.6 million cost of the Eden Project
  Big Build 2 is also supported by funding investments of £12.9 million from Europe, under the Objective One programme and £9.65 million from the South West Regional Development Agency
  Immediate information may be obtained from our website:


For further information, please contact:

David Rowe - Head of Press and Public Relations
Direct Line: 01726 811901

Bryher Scudamore – Director of Communications
Direct Line: 01726 811968

Laura Tregonning, Deborah Clark & Associates Ltd (PR on behalf of Eden)
01872 276 276


Clare Morgan
Media Relations Manager
Objective One Partnership Office
Castle House
Pydar Street
Truro TR1 2UD
Mobile: 07973 813647
Telephone: 01872 223439

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