New Eden Township

Photo taken by Hans Splinter on Flickr

New Eden Township is an experimental Mars prototype, a city housed inside a biodome complex along the Salton Sea in California.

The facility boasts three main, separately enclosed ancillary biomes: 1) Temperate forest / meadow (location of housing and main agricultural gardens); 2) Mediterranean (location of livestock and agriculture); 3) Rainforest (location of agriculture and producer of most of the oxygen filtered into the other biodomes). A small Wetland biodome is connected to the Mediterranean biome to filter the grey water. Additionally, a massive storage room is found off of the Mediterranean biome, enclosed as another small biodome.

The colony emulates an agrarian Anglo-Norman medieval culture. The first generation were live action role-players and scientists, who have agreed to remain enclosed for 25 years. Each resident must provide for their own food, clothing, and other supplies without assistance from the world beyond the walls. The community of New Eden is regulated by The Code, a document that organizes many aspects of their lives.

The government is ruled by four Noble houses representing Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water. The Noble Houses as well as the community are ruled by a secret King or Queen—called The Aether—whose identity remains hidden. The Aether is an organic part of the community and uses a special device to communicate to the Nobles and residents of New Eden.

Due to higher oxygen levels and genetic engineering, plants and trees grow three-four times faster than their Outside counterparts. During the first phase of construction, fully grown trees were rooted in each of the biomes to ensure they slowly tempered with the changing environment.The biodome buildings are based on biomimicry and uses advanced nanotechnology.

Before the fictional New Eden Biospherics & Research conducted a human experiment for Mars colonization, there was the *real* Biosphere 2 Project. This stranger than science fiction experiment hermetically sealed four women and four men inside a biodome from September 26, 1991 to September 26, 1993. An experiment for Mars colonization has yet to come close to reproducing what these eight individuals accomplished, despite the fact that the experiment was deemed as a failed mission.

Photo taken by essygie on flickr

The interactive tourist biodomes of The Eden Project in Cornwall, England. The biomimicry design was inspired by soap bubbles. The geodesic panes are a classic honeycomb shape. Now imagine each biodome is a mile (1,609 meters) long with two hundred foot (61 meters) tall ceilings. The entire footprint of New Eden Township is roughly four square miles (6,460 square meters). Unlike this incredible tourist attraction, New Eden is designed with the latest biospherics and space technology of its day. 

Photo taken by debs-eye on flickr

The view from inside the rainforest biome of The Eden Project. Look at how high the observation decks are above the tree canopy! In New Eden Township, the geodesic panes are “reflective technology,” which means they project a muted, mirrored image back to the residents. This prevents the community from seeing Outside, softens the intensity of sunlight coming in (similar to a greenhouse), and protects the residents from Outside attempts to peer inside the domes. 

Photo by Peter on flickr.

The cafe garden at The Eden Project is a work of art! I imagine The Rows in New Eden similarly. Rather than plant in traditional blocks, I see swirls and shapes, bursting with textures and colors. The ceremonial garden in The Rows is the shape of a heart, the symbol of life and death in New Eden. 

Photo by Ben Rodford on flickr.

To me, The Rows and other gardens in New Eden are intentionally designed to reflect the wilds of nature. This is part of the Permaculture and forest gardening premise: the development of agricultural ecosystems intended to be sustainable and self-sufficient, emulating nature as much as possible.

This is the famed Willow Oak Tree at Shirley Plantation, located in Charles City, Virginia, U.S. Isn’t it beautiful? The trunk is deeply grooved and the branches appear as though sprawling straight out of a fable. In fact, this tree is well over 375 years old! I think Oaklee would appreciate the many stories this famous willow oak tree could share. 

Photo taken by James Nash on flicker

The orange trees in the Mediterranean biodome at The Eden Project. I imagine entire orange, lemon, and lime groves in New Eden Township that are genetically modified to blossom and fruit simultaneously and without a non-fruiting season. This would ensure the residents receive a continual supply of citrus for cooking, personal hygiene, and for the many health benefits, such as preventing scurvy.

Photo taken by Gabrielle Ludlow

The buildings in Warwick, England are responsible for the medieval architecture and storybook-like dwellings of New Eden’s village, merchant shops, and apartments. The cob and timber structures featured above and below is Lord Leycester Hospital, dating back to 1126.

The images above are Lord Lycester Hospital’s courtyard and how I saw the apartments: in multiple stories with decks. However, I envision some decks are open and some are covered, depending on the architecture of that particular area of the building. The Watson apartment is open and butts up against the forest near the North Cave.

Photo by Anguskirk on flickr

This is a “middle class” style bedroom common from the Medieval era, as preserved in the historical Bayleaf Wealdon Hall House, dating back to sometime between 1405-1430. Trundle beds were necessary additions as family members shared chambers. A private room was a rare treat. Canopies graced most beds to protect against falling bugs and leaks in the wattle/thatched roofs. New Eden has traditional style shutters and latticed windows rather than the drop-down shutter and open-air slatted windows as shown. Rooms were sparsely furnished, usually only consisting of a bed, small table, a rug or two, and a chest. 

Photo by Hans Splinter on flicker 

A medieval village wouldn’t be complete without a blacksmith. In this image, the blacksmith is crafting a new hammer. The forge is glowing hot right behind him and he is striking the heated, malleable metal on an anvil. Some Smithy’s or Forges were open aired, sheltered by minimal wattle construction. Most, however, were made of cob and timber construction, like in New Eden. During the Middle Ages, a fire, especially one that brought damage to homes and nearby shops, was considered a hanging offense. For this reason, most Smithy’s housed a “shop boy,” a young apprentice who slept near the forge to keep it stoked during the night, ensuring the coals didn’t cool by morning, and who also watched for any wandering embers that might spark an unwanted fire. 

Here are additional images that convey rural medieval life, from smoking fish, making shoes, gardening, roasting bread on sticks, splitting wood, baking, spinning and weaving, and much more. All photographs are taken by the talented Hans Splinter on Flickr. 

Salton Sea in California

The Salton Sea is a hauntingly beautiful place. Once a hub of tourist activity back in the 1950’s and 1960’s, it’s now a heap of dilapidated buildings, rusted cars and trailers, and a heavily polluted body of water. Ecologists are scrambling to save this accidental paradise, a landscape created during a flash flood at the turn of the 20th century. The high rate of evaporation has created a saline density beyond that of the Pacific Ocean, killing off fish and other aquatic life. The wildlife that remains is contaminated by alarming levels of toxicity and pathogens from Mexico, carried in via the New River and Alamo River, despite water treatment plant efforts at the border.

So why did I choose this as my desired location for the fictional New Eden Township? It’s the perfect location thematically: “In order to live, something must die, but death gives way to the resurrection of new life.” In LEGACY, Hanley explains that the State of California gave him the land in exchange for the state’s use of his desalination equipment with hopes to ease the saline density. Additionally, Hanley was to provide an ecological restoration team from New Eden Enterprises to sustain native plant and animal species.

The landscape of California’s Imperial Valley and high desert is not ideal for testing the accuracy of a Mars colony as the temperatures are too hot, compared to the subfreezing temperatures of Mars. Antarctica would actually be the perfect location for a true experiment. The soil at the Salton Sea, however, presents similar problems as the soil found on Mars: it’s nearly lifeless. Very little grows around the Salton Sea, and certainly not the lush gardens and forests of New Eden Township. If anything, this locations proves scientifically that, with the right ingredients and dedication, an eden can spring from the desert. In other words, Mars can be terraformed. 

Enjoy the pictures!