The Eden Project Pavilion is a ‘cabinet of curiosities’ aiming to create a narrative of hope and positive change.
Designed by Grimshaw Architects with Price & Myers, and fabricated and constructed by Sir Robert McAlpine, The Eden Project Pavilion is in the Blue Zone at COP26 in the Scottish Exhibition Centre. It provides an inviting and multi-sensory engagement space for visitors to the conference.
The structure is an 8metre-diameter dome formed by 68 hexagonal or pentagonal modules. The modules are designed to be added to or subtracted from the structure, forming different and re-configurable layouts throughout the lifetime of the pavilion. They are built from 18mm plywood recycled from various construction sites, and CNC cut to allow for quick and precise assembly. Internal plywood elements form planters to additionally stiffen the modules, incorporating the planter design within the pavilion and making for a leaner, more efficient structure.
The pavilion was designed via a 3D parametric model shared with the architect. The model was integrated with Price & Myers’ ‘finite element analysis’ to allow the designers to rapidly iterate through numerous designs and planter configurations. Giulio Gianni, a structural engineer at Price & Myers, stressed the importance of schemes like the Eden Project Pavilion. ‘Modularity, design for disassembly, use of recycled materials and reduction of waste are all principles that underpinned the design from the early stages and are reflected in the final pavilion,’ he points out. ‘These are concepts that we, as architects and engineers, need to engage with more at all scales and on all projects.’
The design for the Eden Project Pavilion originated at the 2020 Next Generation Design workshop, a two-day event on architecture and engineering. The workshop was led by Scale Rule, a collective of engineers, architects and designers who aim to promote diversity in public engagement in the built environment, and run in conjunction with Grimshaw Architects and Price & Myers.
The workshop was part of an effort to encourage engineering, architecture and design as a career path to students in their GCSE years. Thirty 14- to 16-year old students were invited to come up with a design celebrating sustainability through modular production, recycled materials and future re-use. The winning design came from Harris Boys’ Academy East Dulwich in London. Engineer at Price & Myers, Will Rogers-Tizard was complimentary of the winning entry. ‘The students did a brilliant job of conveying the ideas they wanted to express about the Climate and Biodiversity Emergency through the form and construction of the pavilion,’ he noted. ‘It’s great to see their design come to life in such an important and relevant setting.’