Sensory Trust Access Audits:
enhancing accessibility of the Eden Project

Older visitors at the Eden project

The Eden Project, an internationally renowned UK visitor destination, attracts millions of visitors from all corners of the world. As a venue based in the bottom of a disused china clay quarry, where giant biomes lead visitors from low-lying mangrove swamps to the heady heights of tropical canopies, this is a place that has had more than a few access challenges to resolve. We've been helping maximise accessibility of the Eden Project since it opened in 2001, helping to make a visit equally great for everyone, regardless of age, disabiity and circumstance.

Aims of the audit

Our latest access audit in 2016 was a comprehensive review of all aspects of the project. It was a journey through every aspect of the visitor experience, from the information that people use to plan their visit, to the car parks, toilets, food, learning and play opportunities on offer. It spanned a year so it could capture the different visitor seasons.

A key aim was to make it as easy as possible for all visitors to get around the site, particularly people with limited mobility and stamina. This put an emphasis on details like assisted transport, parking, distance, gradients and seating.

The audit was also focused on access to visitor information and the range of experiences on offer. This included looking at the full range, from a gentle stroll in the warm temperate biome, to a journey through the mists of the canopy walkway or a ride on the zip wire.

Visitor in the mist sprays on the Eden Project's canopy walkway Visitors reading the banners along the entrance to the Eden Project

The overall aim of the review was to make a visit equally accessible and engaging for all visitors, reflecting the spirit of the Equality Act 2010. The review used our access chain to follow the journey of a visitor, from arrival to parking and enjoyment of the different areas of the gardens. It highlighted barriers that get in the way of people enjoying their visit, and recommended actions to remove them. It also identified ways of engaging people more directly through the different senses as a way of enriching the experience for everyone. Events are an important part of the visitor experience at Eden and this was reflected in the review, for example accessibility of the Eden Sessions and relaxed sessions for the dinosaur exhibition.

View of a band playing at the Eden SessionsBoy meets dinosaur

The review is now being used to inform ongoing improvements and future developments at Eden. Take a look at some of our other work with Eden.

"We're so proud to see the Eden Project win the national Inclusive Tourism award in the 2017 VisitEngland Awards for Excellence. It's a great testament to the Eden team and all the work we've done together."
Jane Stoneham, Sensory Trust

Interested in an access audit?

Sensory Trust undertakes access audits for heritage and contemporary venues. Read more about our access audit consultancy >>

Links

Access Chain - a tool for reviewing access from the user's perspective

Outdoor access design factsheets - free guidance

Access statements - samples for you to use

What is inclusive design? How an inclusive approach makes places better for everyone.

Accessible information design - why it matters and who it benefits