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18 avril 2007

Proposals for new Eden building

Eden Project supremo Tim Smit has pledged to build "the most exciting building in the world" in the next phase of development at the environmental centre. Plans for the building - to be called The Edge - are currently being drawn up and this is the first drawing of it to be released. The Edge has been shortlisted for the Big Lottery Fund's £50 million Living Landmarks: The People's Millions award. Mr Smit said this week that everyone at Eden is "very excited" by the scheme.

He said: "We always knew we wanted a third building at Eden and in the early days it was going to be about the dry tropics. However, that idea was put to one side about three years ago when we realised that we wouldn't be able to spend millions of pounds on a building which would recreate some of the poorest environments in the world. This building is not about that, it is about living within limits. We want to look at how well humans - individually and as communities - react positively to changes."

The new building will look at the approaching water crisis, the challenges in the supply of energy and the impacts of changes to our climate. However the building will not be about climate change, but because of climate change.

Mr Smit said: "It will have at one level a horticultural collection and the chambers below will be created by great thinkers and creative people of our generation looking at what it is to be a human being. I can't say what is going to be in any of the chambers as, for many of them, it is not known yet. However, we have worked a lot with the Sensory Trust and we are interested in the question of what it is like to be disabled. Having asked that question we also want to know what it is to be able. You might have people who might appear to be born without problems, but then might not be able to engage emotionally or have a poor sense of smell, something which is not immediately obvious but is disabling. We want to explore the effects of that and this will be interesting for all sorts of reasons. We are hoping that the chambers will be connected by corridors, some of which might be dark or lined with fur, or with rope. Or you might have to take off your shoes and socks to walk through them to experience something."

Mr Smit declined to say who would be involved with creating all the chambers but did confirm that author Philip Pullman, famous for the His Dark Materials novels, and musician Peter Gabriel would each be responsible for a chamber.

He added: "There will also be rooms created by the British public. They will be able to have their input in what it is to be a human being. We have already started work on site asking our public what are the things that move them. The smells, tastes and senses that excite them. People are fascinated by talking about themselves and their responses. We hope over the summer we can gather more of this information from visitors to Eden."
Eden will submit its final application for the lottery funding scheme next month and in October a final shortlist will be made of projects to go forward to a live public TV vote. The final vote will take place in the new year. Mr Smit said: "I want this to be the most exciting building in the world. That is exactly what we want for Eden and we believe that The Edge can be that building."

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