Our green cathedral: Look how the Eden Project has grown

Ten years ago, a rural corner of Cornwall was transformed into an environmental paradise.
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The Independent Online

For ten years now the Eden Project has been thrilling all those who enter its remarkable biomes with the environmental wonders that greet them. More than 13 million people have made the journey to the corner of Cornwall, where the Project's domes rise from the rural countryside like visitors from outer space. Home to plant species from all over the world, the tropical, Mediterranean and outdoor environments highlight the interdependence between plants and people, and encourage a greater empathy for environmental matters.

Some go to take in Nicholas Grimshaw's futuristic architecture, or the numerous sculptures on show, which include a giant bee and a robot made from used electrical appliances. Many have been to attend one of the outdoor concerts that the venue hosts each summer, where artists such as Oasis and Lily Allen have entertained crowds in the past.

Eden: The Whole Inspiring Story of the Eden Project was the bestselling environment book of the decade and has now been revised and updated for the Project's tenth anniversary.

Accompanying the stunning photography, Tim Smit, the Project's co-founder, tells the emotional behind-the-scenes story, including his initial doubts at being able to pull off such a venture, the many obstacles the team had to overcome, and the joy at seeing his vision realised.

"We had built the largest conservatories the world had ever seen. The greatest challenge now was to prove that it was all worthwhile," Smit writes in the book's prologue. "As I watched the first visitor walk open-mouthed into our great green cathedral, and as small groups became hundreds and then thousands followed on behind, I thought to myself, the truly special thing about Eden is not what you see, although that is awesome enough; it is the spirit that brought so many 'ordinary' people together, to add up to so much more than the sum of their parts. That was the real reason for hope. If we could do this, what could happen if even more were harnessed together? We'd built a magnificent Living Theatre, but the world is really the stage."

'Eden 10th Anniversary Edition' is published by Eden Project Books (£16.99). To order a copy for the special price of £15.29 (free P&P) call Independent Books Direct on 08430 600 030, or visit www.independentbooksdirect.co.uk