We are unrestrained by the laws of time and space

We are unrestrained by the laws of time and space

Explore Venus & Lost Giants Safari

We designed and delivered two exciting Eden Project virtual reality experiences for families. By virtually building the surface of Venus and a virtual reality safari we supported the Eden Project’s education programme and helped their visitors experience the impossible.


visitors a day


metres of VR to explore


huge extinct animals


years ago


Our inhouse designers and developers created two bespoke VR environments for the Eden Project.

Eden Project logo

Making family attraction virtual reality

Deep in the heart of Cornwall, the Eden Project visitor centre and global garden hosts thousands of families each year. With an ever-changing programme of horticulture exhibits, arts and culture programmes, community initiatives and education work there’s always something new for visitors to discover. And sometimes, that includes VR for kids!

As an educational charity that celebrates the interconnectivity of nature and highlights humanity’s dependence on plants and the natural world, the Eden Project’s mission is to demonstrate how working with nature benefits all living things.

But how do you show humanity’s impact on the world around us over time in a simple and engaging way? How do you help someone experience something that no longer exists, or let them navigate an environment that is inhospitable for humans? And how do you talk about extinction and environmental issues without becoming too preachy or depressing?

The Eden Project commissioned Curio to provide entertaining but educational VR experiences which let their visitors uncover links between humanity and nature for themselves.

Using VR to experience the impossible

We created two immersive virtual reality experiences, including a VR safari, that transported visitors to impossible landscapes.

We wanted to offer people opportunities to understand the co-dependency between humans and nature by navigating virtual spaces which they could never visit in real life.

By creating VR for kids we hoped to give them a once in a lifetime experience which would encourage deeper conversations about the climate and the symbiotic relationships which keep us all alive.

virtual reality landscapes
virtual reality landscapes

Part I: Venus Exploration

VR for kids needs to be impactful and fun. It has to offer something they can’s experience anywhere else, so in 2018 we virtually transported Eden Project visitors to Venus.

As the hottest planet in the solar system, complete with toxic clouds of carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide and a crushing atmosphere that would squish any human in seconds, Venus is not a welcoming destination despite its similar size and composition to Earth. Venus’ weather forecast includes sulphuric acid rain, wind speeds of 300km an hour and average temperatures of 462 degrees Celsius.

Our virtual reality Venus experience involved navigating a 25 metre route that led visitors from ‘basecamp’ across the sweltering surface of the planet to a waiting rocket.

After donning a VR headset, users passed through the sliding doors of basecamp and headed out on the perilous journey, crossing a bridge above an enormous lava flow and stopping to explore caves.

In reality users were zigzagging across a 10x10m custom built space with directional speakers simulating the sounds of bubbling lava and the rumbling rocket. However the experience was so visceral and detailed that Eden Project visitors were completely immersed.

Over 1000 visitors took their first steps on Venus in just one summer, proving just how popular VR for kids is. Our VR exhibit supported the Eden Project’s other space offerings in ‘Expedition Space’, including mini golf on Mercury and sliding down the surface of the moon.

By safely experiencing conditions on Venus in VR visitors could appreciate the necessity to care for the only humanely-hospitable planet: Earth.

VR is one of the most dynamic new forms of entertainment and this is an experience that people can only have at Eden this summer. Where else will you be able to set foot on the surface of Venus?

Eden Live Programme Manager Kate Francis

VR is one of the most dynamic new forms of entertainment and this is an experience that people can only have at Eden this summer. Where else will you be able to set foot on the surface of Venus?

Eden Live Programme Manager Kate Francis

Part II: Lost Giants Virtual Reality Safari

The following year, we took things one step further. Not only did we recreate four distinct and detailed landscapes, we populated them with giant but extinct animals.

Our virtual reality safari proves that VR for kids can be more experiential than gamified and still fully absorb their attention.

Each biome within the virtual reality safari – from the North American plains or South American desert, to Madagascan scrubland or Eurasian woodland – consisted of custom sculpted virtual terrains, vegetation and rocks, with a dirt track connecting them. Within each habitat, VR users encountered a different, corresponding creature: the Giant Elephant Bird, Irish Elk, Giant Armadillo or Giant Ground Sloth.

When creating VR for kids we knew that bright colours and huge creatures would encourage longer explorations of our virtual reality safari. We designed the animals as low poly 3D models before rigging and animating them, and housing them in their virtual habitat.

All four animals are extinct. The Giant Ground Sloth and Giant Armadillo thrived during the Ice Age. The Giant Elephant Bird was last seen over 1,000 years ago and the Irish Elk became extinct around 11,000 years ago. Each species’ demise is linked to climate change and the destruction of habitats and food sources.

The Giant Ground Sloth was as tall as a giraffe and the Giant Elephant Bird stood up to 3m tall, while the Irish Elk had antlers that spanned 12 feet in width and the Giant Armadillo grew to the size of a small car!

Their huge sizes necessitated vast quantities of food and nutrients which became unsustainable after the Ice Age, but humans were likely the driving force behind the Giant Elephant Bird’s extinction due to expanding civilization and destruction of habitats and food sources.

In our VR safari, visitors entered each habitat respectfully in their own custom built safari jeep! With bass speakers concealed beneath each hood emanating raspy engine noises, we transformed the room into a garage with each jeep deliberately positioned to maximise space and offer an enticing preview for those waiting in line.

We styled the space to emulate the VR safari theme: from leafy canopies and explorer lamps to jerry cans. By blurring the lines between reality and VR, we prepared visitors for the VR safari and showed that when making VR for kids it’s important to ready them for their virtual experience. Before they reached their jeep their anticipation had been built through the props, set and sound effects.

As they’d already grown accustomed to the custom built physical environment, donning a VR headset and stepping into a virtual world didn’t feel like such a big step, enabling them to enjoy the immersion without feeling self-conscious.

Most VR experiences are solitary but our multiuser VR networking system enabled the safari to feel social, protecting the group dynamic that had developed as users queued for the experience. Scaled to mimic real jeeps, up six people could enjoy the giant safari together, with realistic views carefully mapped to each chosen seat to ensure a realistic experience.

Motion-tracked avatars of your companions were visible during the journey, meaning visitors felt they were embarking on this trip as a group. Engaging in a virtual reality safari might seem overwhelming, which is why we ensured our VR for kids still had this shared experience.

This enabled deeper discussions about the sights they’d experienced during the virtual reality safari, meaning families, long-term friends and new acquaintances left bonded through an unforgettable experience.

virtual reality landscapes
virtual reality landscapes

This is a major development for Eden and we’re proud to be working with Zubr [Curio] to bring this unique experience and exciting new technology to our visitors.

Eden Live Programme Manager Kate Francis

This is a major development for Eden and we’re proud to be working with Zubr [Curio] to bring this unique experience and exciting new technology to our visitors.

Eden Live Programme Manager Kate Francis

Making unforgettable memories

Using virtual reality as a tool for education as well as entertainment meant visitors to the Eden Project could visualise lost creatures and unreachable environments firsthand. There’s no better way to understand science than experiencing it for yourself.

Our collaboration was the first time the Eden Project has hosted a fully immersive VR experience. They’d previously shown 360 degree films through VR headsets, we designed these bespoke interactive experiences especially for the Eden Project using technology that had only recently become available.

In stepping out onto the surface of Venus and witnessing the atmospheric challenges of another planet Eden visitors realised the importance of ensuring the Earth remains hospitable, whilst getting up close and personal with giants from the past and exploring rich virtual habitats helped VR safari users celebrate Earth’s biodiversity in an embodied and sensory experience.

Our bold colour palette and sharp contours created memorable and absorbing virtual worlds.

Taking inspiration from theme park rides, we reflected the thoughtful VR design in the visitor journey to prepare visitors for both their VR space mission and VR safari trip and ensure they felt confident and at ease.

Knowing the heavy footfall the Eden Project receives during the holidays, we timed both the Venus Exploration and the Lost Giants Safari to maintain visitor flow whilst ensuring accessibility.

And lucky we did, as the Eden Project received more visitors than any other visitor attraction in Devon or Cornwall in 2019!

Our VR experiences prove the value of virtual reality in education as well as entertainment. Giving your visitors the power to step into another place or time and take control of their learning in an immersive yet social reality encourages a true sense of discovery and collective learning.

Want to talk about ways of using VR in your own work? Get in touch and let us know which virtual world you and your visitors would like to explore.

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