An image of the proposed Scottish home for a major eco-visitor attraction has been released as the development takes another step forward.
The Eden Project, known for its geodesic Biome domes, plans to transform the Dundee Gasworks on East Dock Street into a “powerful symbol of regeneration”.
An agreement has now been signed by the Eden and the owners of the site, National Grid and SGN outlining their shared expectations for the development.
Set back from the waterfront, on the east of the city’s major regeneration project, the development will draw on the history of Dundee’s Nine Trades reimagining them as alternative ways of seeing the world.
The healers, growers, navigators, myth-makers, noticers, alchemists, celebrators, menders and “re-sourcerors” will each have a distinctive guild hall in the Eden Project with the possibility of sites elsewhere in the city.
These guild halls will form the central experience for visitors and will include areas such as the Lookout, which celebrates connections between people and the natural world, the Lush Bunker, a high-tech zone showcasing new ways to grow plants and featuring hyper-real journeys into the air, soil and water, and the Seam, a collection of emotional, story-driven experiences related to mining and its alternatives.
Eden predicts that the project will create 200 jobs and contribute £27m per year to the regional economy.
David Harland, Eden Project International chief executive, said: “The feasibility study was like nothing we’ve ever worked on before, coming as it did during lockdown.
“Against all the odds, the hard work and dedication of our partners in Dundee shone through – even when we could only talk to them through a computer screen, their passion for the project, their city and country was palpable.
“Alongside the generous engagement of local businesses and community groups, this has come together, such that we now have a project with genuine air under its wings.”
Both SGN and National Grid have welcomed the agreement which comes after a six-month feasibility study.
Prem Gabbi, National Grid’s director of UK land and property, said: “We are keen to preserve the industrial heritage of our former gasworks, so it’s exciting to see the potential of it being brought back into beneficial use for the public in a sustainable way. We hope it will become a much-loved destination.”
The existing tall brick walls of the site could create the boundaries of walled gardens providing a striking contrast with the site’s industrial heritage.
Nicola Sturgeon hailed the development as “fantastic news” and said it would play a key role in Dundee’s economic recovery from Covid.
The First Minister said: “The plans and illustrations for the preferred site look nothing short of stunning.
“The regeneration of an old gasworks into a stunning garden of Eden is visionary and should be held up as an inspiration to what can be achieved as Scotland begins the process of building back better from the pandemic.
“Also, the climate emergency has not gone away and the Scottish Government looks forward to a successful COP26 In Glasgow. My government’s support for the creation of an Eden in Scotland is a tangible showcase for our commitment to a just transition to net-zero emissions by 2045.”
The original Eden Project in Cornwall has welcomed more than 22 million visitors since opening and has generated more than £2b for the regional economy.
Councillor John Alexander, leader of Dundee City Council, said: “Completing the feasibility study and identifying the preferred site are another two important milestones on our journey to bringing Eden to Dundee.
“It truly is an incredible project, which will wow city residents and visitors alike. What Eden has envisaged is the transformation of an industrial site into a world-class attraction with a focus on the environment and sustainability.”