Move over, Biosphere2–the United Kingdom‘s (UK) Eden Project is, according to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world’s largest enclosed greenhouse. (It’s also home to what is believed to be the world’s largest enclosed rainforest.)
Originally constructed as one of the Landmark Millennium Projects to mark the year 2000 in the UK, The Eden Project was built in an exhausted china clay quarry at Bodelva in Cornwall. During the first two months of construction it rained every day, and 43 million gallons of rainwater drained into the quarry pit. This inspired the project’s engineers to develop a subterranean drainage system that harvests all rainwater onsite to irrigate gardens (and, you know, flush a few loos).
Gizmag reports that The Eden Project consists of three major biomes: the Rainforest Biome, the Mediterranean Biome and the open-air Outdoor Biome. The Rainforest Biome creates a steamy climate for tropical plants; the Mediterranean Biome is home to plants comfortable in Mediterranean countries, as well as in parts of Africa and California; and the open-air Outdoor Biome showcases plants at home in the local environment, including lavender, hops, hemps and sunflowers.
Each of these three gardens is housed in a dome constructed using tubular steel space-frames with ETFE (ethyltetrafluoroethylene) hexagonal panels. The Eden Project was also built with energy efficiency in mind and is currently exploring renewable energy options to power its operations. It is open to the public and hosts a variety of events year round.