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The Root Dome at the Eden Project

The Root Dome made from fabric formed concrete

The Root Dome at the Invisible Worlds exhibition at the Eden Project

The Root Dome is part of the Invisible Worlds exhibition at the Eden Project.

Invisible Worlds is a major new permanent exhibition that reveals the world beyond our senses: too big, too small, too fast, too slow, too far away in space and time. It introduces the interconnectedness between life and the Earth’s environments at all scales. It explores how life is shaped by and shapes this invisible ‘Life Support System’.

The Root Dome houses the Soil Exhibit about Brown Gold, the living Skin of the Earth. Keith Newstead created the Automata within the dome. It reveals fascinating facts about the soil and mycorrhizal fungi that connect plant roots together in a giant underground communications network.

Inside the Root Dome looking at the hidden secrets of the soil
A triangle marked PLY? ready for sewing for the Root Dome

Creating the Root Dome

British Designer & Engineer Sam Lanyon of The Concept Shed designed the Root Dome.

Hal Silvester, lead designer of the Man Engine, designed and drew the shapes of the branches on the fabric. The shapes and structure were inspired by mycorrhizal fungi. Each branch of the pillar had to be drawn thick enough so that the concrete branches didn't break, but slim enough that the concrete didn't pool into one massive ugly trunk.

Tracey Dockree sewed the fabric panels together to create the mould into which the concrete was poured. Once set these concrete pillars would form the dome. The panels were huge, over 3.6m in length. The stitches had to be tight enough to stop concrete leaking out everywhere, but large enough to be cut quickly should the concrete flow in an unexpected direction.

Radius bent reinforcing bar from Devoran Metals was also embedded in the fabric-formed concrete.

Each panel was precast and formed on site at the Eden Project.

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