Greenically Correct: Extraction in Cornwall

^ Interior of the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

 

Cornwall, south westernmost region in England, has assisted to flourishing tin-mining activities since the Middle Ages, where tin-mines and soil-politics were brought together into a particular legal system: the Stannary Courts and Parliaments. The privileges in tax-exemption and civil jurisdiction that were conferred upon the tinners reflect the importance of the economic activity at the time. Cornish and Devon Stannaries are one of the most ancient regulations concerning the reclamation of the commons. The extraction of mineral resources basically operated through the demarcation of tin bounds in the territory.

The same region developed a large china clay industry a few centuries ago. Today, many disused pits and dump wastelands, some listed under UNESCO world heritage protection, are scattered all over post-mining Cornwall. The beautiful landscape of grey kaolin terraces surrounded by green prairies still reminds us of how the subtracted material actually creates a topographic silhouette that prevents the soil from sliding downhill. The clay pit as a void emphasizes the idea of ‘hole’. Contrary to natural valleys, disused clay pits are rushed to be filled up again with something malleable. A valley would never become a ‘hole’, since valleys have always been ‘empty’ and do not need any material ‘stuffing’.

 

^ Clay Pit near St. Austell, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Clay Pit near St. Austell, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Clay Pit near St. Austell, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Flooded clay pit, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

One of the most celebrated reconversions of a former quarry is the Eden Project (2001). The gigantic and impressive domes covering the empty pit do not aim to regenerate original landscape, since it would not attract investment for the region. Quite the opposite, the goal was to install exotic follies (‘Tropical and Mediterranean Biomes’) as a way to transform disused mining pits and raise nature-consciousness – it is actually labelled as a ‘top eco visitor attraction’. Apart from exuberant plants, this includes an Italian live singer with his guitar amongst fig trees or a mobile bar selling baobab juice smoothies; fair trade chocolate or hand-made crafts; an incredible waste of thermal energy to force tropical plants grow in the UK in order to become environmentally-aware. Local visitors are so not used to the high humidity and heat inside the greenhouse, that there are even air-conditioned ‘cool rooms’ along the indoor path to have a break. Eden Project is the paradigm of commodification of the environment, where nature needs to be marketed to further preserve nature.

Paradoxes apart, the domes and the clay landscapes are definitely worth a visit.

 

^ Aerial view. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Mediterranean Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Dome openings. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ ETFE dome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Mediterranean Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Suspended staircases in the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Air conducts in the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Suspended staircase in the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

^ Interior of the Tropical Biome. Eden Project, Cornwall, UK. photo>deconcrete2012

 

 

 

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