Further to my last post, on the Guardian website this evening there are (very) short interviews with the founder of the Eden Project, Tim Smit, and one of the architects, Jolyon Brewis; here's what the latter has to say:
Most architects dream of creating a new world on a scale that eclipses all that’s gone before. And many of us love the sci-fi film Silent Running, too, in which giant greenhouses are attached to spacecraft. So in the early days, when there was always the threat of construction being stopped because of lack of money, all the companies involved carried on regardless: we were so enthralled by the vision.
Our first designs were for different locations, including a tent-like structure for a hillside, then Smit discovered the china clay quarry at Bodelva. It had a romantic, lost world feel since it would be hidden from view until you were almost upon it. I thought it was a wonderful idea: land that had been desecrated by humans being returned to fecundity by humans. [...]