Architect firm behind Marble Arch Mound unveils 'a Valley of Eden'

Architect firm behind disastrous Marble Arch Mound unveils another huge plant project – a ‘Valley of Eden’ in Armenia with 10,000 garden plots and a ‘control room’ in a giant sphere

  • The ‘self-sustaining valley’ will be developed over an 18,000-hectare area in Armenia’s Gagarin Valley
  • It’s hoped that the valley, equipped with cycle paths, a stadium and a centre for the arts, will attract tourists 
  • It comes as Dutch firm MVRDV defends its design of the Marble Arch Mound, which was recently torn down 

The architect firm behind the much-criticised Marble Arch Mound has another garden project up its sleeve – a self-sustaining ‘Valley of Eden’, complete with 10,000 garden plots, a giant mirrored sphere and a sunken stadium.

Last month, contractors started tearing down the £6million mound, designed by MVRDV, after the artificial hill, open to the public for just six months, was widely panned.

The Dutch firm’s latest endeavour will be constructed over an 18,000-hectare (44,478-acre) plot in Armenia’s Gagarin Valley, an area close to Lake Sevan that’s named after Yuri Gagarin, the first human to orbit the earth.

MVRDV, the architect firm behind the much-criticised Marble Arch mound has another garden project up its sleeve – a ‘Valley of Eden’ complete with 10,000 garden plots, a giant mirrored sphere (shown in a rendering centre-right) and a sunken stadium

MVRDV’s ‘self-sustaining valley’, shown here in a rendering, will be constructed over an 18,000-hectare (44,478-acre) area in Armenia’s Gagarin Valley, close to Lake Sevan

The Gagarin Valley project, which was commissioned by the DAR Foundation for Regional Development and Competitiveness, aims to turn the valley into a ‘future-proof landscape’ that can be used for sustainable agriculture and ecotourism.

As well as attracting tourists, it’s hoped that the revamped valley – which currently has 11,000 residents spread across several villages – will become a ‘more attractive place to live’ for young Armenians. 

Ten thousand species of plants and flowers will be planted across the ‘patchwork of 10,000 gardens’ – one rendering shows a field of lavender.

According to the architects, the valley’s silver orb will function as a control room and was designed to look like a ‘mini-planet’. It will be surrounded by a park – ‘a scientific arboretum’ – that contains all of the plant species, reflected in the sphere. And inside they will be ‘shown and monitored’.  

The Gagarin Valley project aims to turn the area into a ‘future-proof landscape’ that can be used for sustainable agriculture and ecotourism

On each garden plot, different species of plants and flowers will be planted – one rendering (pictured) shows a field of lavender

The above rendering shows the new architecture that will rise over the valley. The architects plan on turning the Soviet buildings that are currently in place into new constructions 

MVRDV says: ‘The valley can be seen as a series of test fields for the 10,000 species that will soon flourish there, an enrichment that will give the area the appearance of a garden of Eden’ 

The sunken stadium will have a 4,500-seat capacity, but it won’t be the only entertainment venue on offer for residents and visitors – there will be a market hall, a commercial centre, a centre for the arts and an educational agricultural centre.

Setting out to become a ‘destination’ for horse riders, walkers and cyclists, the region will be scattered with new bike trails and walking routes. 

The architects plan on turning the Soviet buildings that are currently in place into new constructions, in a bid to avoid building waste. Entirely new buildings, inspired by the design of traditional Armenian farmhouses, will also be constructed, crowned by green, vegetated roofs.

The project, which is still in its planning stages, will also enlarge the route of the Hrazdan River and create a new canal system to help to irrigate the region’s plants and farmland.

It’s hoped that the revamped valley will become a ‘more attractive place to live’ for young Armenians 

The valley, shown here in a rendering, is named after Yuri Gagarin, the cosmonaut who was the first human to orbit the earth

MVRDV presents the design in model form. The firm currently has no information on the cost and completion date of Gagarin Valley

Sharing the story behind the plans, MVRDV founding partner Winy Maas says: ‘Yuri Gagarin saw the planet’s vulnerability, a house in need of extra care, as many other astronauts have since stressed. I share that concern: stimulating biodiversity, improving water management and the ecosystem is of great importance for the future of the Gagarin Valley and the world.

‘The valley can be seen as a series of test fields for the 10,000 species that will soon flourish there, an enrichment that will give the area the appearance of a garden of Eden.’

It comes as MVRDV defends the design of the Marble Arch Mound, blaming Westminster council’s ‘loveless execution’ of the project for its failure.

Contractors started tearing down the Marble Arch Mound, pictured, last month after the artificial hill was widely panned

The hill was branded the ‘capital’s worst tourist attraction’ and a ‘waste of money’, but the architects said that they had no clue why so much ended up being spent on the project – it was built for triple the initial £2million budget. 

MVRDV said: ‘In our thirty years of practice, MVRDV has never before experienced such nonchalance and laxity with our design work.’

MVRDV currently has no information on the cost and completion date of Gagarin Valley. For more information visit mvrdv.com.  

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