Lonely Planet Writer

This installation in Malaysia has brought the Garden of Eden to real life

The Garden of Eden might be a mythological and biblical place, but a version of it has just come to life in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.

The objective of the installation was to design “a garden of delight”. Image by David Yeow

Architect and artist Pamela Tan has created the Eden installation to be exposed permanently at 163 Retail Park of Mont Kiara in the Malaysian capital. The installation “blurs the boundaries between man-made wonders and the beauty of nature,” by blending its arching structure with the pre-existing greenery of the space it occupies.

Pamela Tan took inspiration for her white and ethereal installation, which at times looks like a cathedral and a mythical temple, from several places. Victorian-era buildings, such as Crystal Palace which hosted the 1851 Great Exhibition in London, and Jules Verne with his designs for Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

With Eden, “elements melt and merge together to become a single structure”. Image by David Yeow

Pamela Tan also mentions the works of Ernst Haeckel, who looked for geometric patterns in nature. “These details could not be seen by the naked eye,” she told Lonely Planet. “It led me to the idea of developing my own series of cell-like details”. For example, you’ll be able to see the glass spheres representing water droplets perched on Eden’s arches if you pay close attention, and mind the details rather than the overall structure.

“I hope [the installation] will enable visitors to observe nature more closely and in a different way than the one they’re used to,” Pamela Tan explained to Lonely Planet, even though she’s aware that anyone who visits her installation will have a different take on her work. She said she’s excited about it because she’s “always interested to see how various visitors have different interactions and responses towards Eden.”

The idea of Eden was for it to be a place “of solace and contemplation”. Image by David Yeow

The installation, which covers an area of 156 square metres, is meant to be a “refuge from the hustle and bustle of daily life,” as well as a place where people can “momentarily suspend [their] beliefs and become a child once again”.

Eden will remain at the 163 Retail Park as a permanent installation. Image by David Yeow

If you’d like to know more about Pamela Tan and her works, you can visit her website and portfolio here.