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Eden: Roof finished 

Eden's team of daredevil roofers - known as "sky monkeys" - fitted the last of the foil cushions on to the giant structure today (Tuesday).

Over the past six months a team of up to 30 technicians has dangled on ropes installing a total of 694 high-tech foil cushions on to the vast steel biomes which will house the vast array of unusual tropical plants.

The fitting of the last piece of roof marked an important milestone in the construction of the 80 million project, which has attracted 250,000 people since the visitor centre opened in May.

The foil cushions, which are either a hexagon or pentagon shape, to cover the geodesic structure, are made from a material called ehtyl tetra fluro ethylene, known as EFTE. This material is the key to Eden's construction because glass would have been too heavy for the self-supporting steel structure.

Each cushion has taken anything from 15 minutes to three hours to install, depending on its size, position and the weather conditions.

The so-called sky monkeys are all, in fact, qualified rope-access technicians working to strict safety guidelines. Other notable structures which have required these workers include the new Severn Bridge, the Humber Bridge, and the Millennium Dome.

Julian Pullen, project manager for Foiltec, was delighted to have overseen the fitting of the last cushion. "The whole job has been unique, mainly because of the rope access work on such an amazing structure.

"You can't beat the buzz of doing a free abseil from 147 feet - the top of the Humid Tropics Biome - to the ground."

Barry Johnson, project manager for the main contractor, McAlpine/JV, said: "We are really pleased to have reached this stage because we have now got a building in which we can install all the services and get ready for the planting."

The rope access team will stay on site until November to complete several other jobs, from installing the caps on the air pipes for the biomes, to putting a bird wire in place to stop birds landing on the structures.

The Eden Project is on schedule to fully open in the spring of 2001.

Meanwhile, Eden is running a series of workshops for the public as a pilot in preparation for full opening. Participants can discover how plants were used in prehistoric times and how to make paper from plants. For more details, contact the Eden Project on 01726 222900.

August 22, 2000 

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