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The first part of the Eden Project, the visitor centre, opened to the public in May 2000. The full site opened on 17 March 2001.
The Project hosted the "Africa Calling" concert of the Live 8 concert series on 2 July 2005. It was also used as a filming location for the 2002 James Bond film, Die Another Day (starring Pierce Brosnan). It also provided some plants for the British Museum's Africa garden.
In 2005, the Project launched "A Time of Gifts" for the winter months, November to February. This features an ice rink covering the lake, with a small café/bar attached, as well as a Christmas market. Cornish choirs regularly perform in the biomes.
On 6 December 2007, the Eden Project invited people all over Cornwall to try to break the world record for the biggest ever pub quiz as part of its campaign to bring £50 million of lottery funds to Cornwall.
In December 2007, the Project failed in its bid for £50 million of funding, after the Big Lottery Fund popular vote, when it received just 12.07% of the votes, the lowest for the four projects being considered. Eden wanted the money for Edge, a proposed desert biome.
In December 2009, much of the project, including both greenhouses, became available to navigate through Google Street View.
The site occupied by the Eden Project was used by the BBC as the planet surface of Magrathea in the 1981 TV series of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
The domes provide diverse growing conditions, and many plants are on display.
The Eden Project includes environmental education focusing on the interdependence of plants and people; plants are labelled with their medicinal uses. The massive amounts of water required to create the humid conditions of the Tropical Biome, and to serve the toilet facilities, are all sanitized rain water that would otherwise collect at the bottom of the quarry. The only mains water used is for hand washing and for cooking. The complex also uses Green Tariff Electricity the energy comes from one of the many wind turbines in Cornwall, which were among the first in Europe.
Controversially, one of the companies the Eden Project currently partners with is the British mining company Rio Tinto Group. Rio Tinto is set to begin mining in Madagascar for titanium dioxide. This will involve the removal of a large section of coastal forest, and may cause extensive damage to the unique biodiversity of the Malagasy flora and fauna.
In December 2010 the Eden Project received permission to build a Geothermal electricity plant which will generate approx 4MWe, enough to supply Eden and about 5000 households.
The Core is the latest addition to the site and opened in September 2005. It provides the Eden Project with an education facility, incorporating classrooms and exhibition spaces designed to help communicate Eden's central message about the relationship between people and plants. Accordingly, the building has taken its inspiration from plants, most noticeable in the form of the soaring timber roof, which gives the building its distinctive shape.
Grimshaw developed the geometry of the copper-clad roof in collaboration with a sculptor, Peter Randall-Page, and Mike Purvis of structural engineers SKM Anthony Hunts. It is derived from phyllotaxis, which is the mathematical basis for nearly all plant growth; the "opposing spirals" found in many plants such as the seeds in a sunflower's head, pine cones and pineapples. The copper was obtained from traceable sources, and the Eden Project is working with Rio Tinto to explore the possibility of encouraging further traceable supply routes for metals, which would enable users to avoid metals mined unethically. The services and acoustic design was carried out by Buro Happold.
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