Lauren Milton, a modelmaking student at The Arts University Bournemouth has created a 3-D tactile map of the Eden Project for people with visual impairments, which will allow them to experience the landscape and architecture of this visitor attraction in Cornwall.

Lauren produced the piece as part of her final major project on the course. She created the wooden model using a mixture of techniques which included carving all of the buildings and plant beds by hand. In creating the tactile map, Lauren worked with the Sensory Trust, which helps to make places more accessible and useful for people of all abilities, and Justine Quinn, Interpretation Manager at Eden.

Justine commented “We have wanted to have a tactile model of Eden for a long time, so when Lauren approached us we were delighted. However, none of us imagined how detailed and beautiful the final model would be – it far exceeded our expectations and is testament to Lauren’s focus, professionalism, creativity, skill & attention to detail.

Working with Lauren has been a real pleasure. From the outset she has been very professional in her approach and I always felt the project was in safe hands. She took a lot of time researching what we wanted and needed, getting input from several people both at Eden and the Sensory Trust in order to meet the brief. The fact that we now have such a beautiful, sustainable and functional model shows she listened and took on board our ideas and comments, as well as including some of her own that together have resulted in something she can be very proud of.”

Lauren decided to create the model as she?s very interested in using eco-friendly materials and experimenting with new and innovative processes and techniques. She commented “I chose to create the tactile map because I wanted to make something that would help people find their way around such a beautiful place and I think that the initial view when you walk into Eden is something that everyone should be able to experience. After an initial meeting with the Eden Project and The Sensory Trust I was given free rein over the design of the map and what it would be made out of. Most tactile maps are made from cast resin or bronze but I wanted to do something that complimented its natural surroundings and wood became the obvious choice.”

Lauren, who was awarded the Deans Prize for The Faculty of Design 2011 at the end of year show for her tactile map will now be extending the project to create further maps with more detail of specific plant species. She is also working on another commission following her Graduation in July and hopes this will be the start of a successful career. “The modelmaking course at the Arts University has definitely been a wise investment and a very enjoyable one too. By learning such a huge range of techniques and processes I now feel confident that I can make it on my own. The modelmaking course has a great reputation for getting people into employment and the tutors have been very supportive of my future career plans.”