Architecture

Greenhouse sprouts legs to combat flooding

Greenhouse sprouts legs to com...
Erica and Peter in front of their flood-proof greenhouse and amphibious car
Erica and Peter in front of their flood-proof greenhouse and amphibious car
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When Middlesex, UK, home owners Erica and Peter suffered their fifth flood on their house near the River Thames, it was time for a change
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When Middlesex, UK, home owners Erica and Peter suffered their fifth flood on their house near the River Thames, it was time for a change
Deciding that they loved their home far too much to move, the couple turned to architecture firm BAT Studio to build a greenhouse on legs
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Deciding that they loved their home far too much to move, the couple turned to architecture firm BAT Studio to build a greenhouse on legs
The Greenhouse That Grows Legs is built from glue laminated timber
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The Greenhouse That Grows Legs is built from glue laminated timber
The structure measures 29 sq m (312 sq ft)
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The structure measures 29 sq m (312 sq ft)
The greenhouse is supported on a steel frame and four hydraulic legs that lift simultaneously
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The greenhouse is supported on a steel frame and four hydraulic legs that lift simultaneously
Once a flood warning is issued, the owners pack the building with their furniture and other possessions that risk damage and raise the greenhouse via remote control
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Once a flood warning is issued, the owners pack the building with their furniture and other possessions that risk damage and raise the greenhouse via remote control
The greenhouse rises 800 mm (2.6 ft) to avoid flood water
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The greenhouse rises 800 mm (2.6 ft) to avoid flood water
Most of the year it simply serves as a normal greenhouse
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Most of the year it simply serves as a normal greenhouse
The greenhouse rises 800 mm (2.6 ft) to avoid flood water
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The greenhouse rises 800 mm (2.6 ft) to avoid flood water
The structure measures 29 sq m (312 sq ft)
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The structure measures 29 sq m (312 sq ft)
Erica and Peter in front of their flood-proof greenhouse and amphibious car
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Erica and Peter in front of their flood-proof greenhouse and amphibious car

When Middlesex, UK, home owners Erica and Peter suffered their fifth flood in 2014, they had to do something. Deciding that they loved their River Thames-based home far too much to move, the couple commissioned architecture firm BAT Studio to build a greenhouse that could double-up as a flood-proof safe place to store their belongings.

Measuring 29 sq m (312 sq ft) and consisting of one large interior space, the aptly-named Greenhouse That Grows Legs is constructed from glue laminated timber, supported on a steel frame, and sports four hydraulic legs that work simultaneously to lift it 800 mm (2.6 ft) off the ground.

"We love our house by the Thames – the only drawback is the river floods," explains owner Erica, who also owns an amphibious car, pictured above. "When we bought the house in 2000 we were told the flood risk was 1 in a 100 but we have flooded five times. Our living area sits well above the flood level however our undercroft garage and storage area floods dramatically...

"We approached BAT Studio for a solution that could provide a safe refuge for bulky items during a flood but was also a useful space for the rest of the year."

The greenhouse rises 800 mm (2.6 ft) to avoid flood water
The greenhouse rises 800 mm (2.6 ft) to avoid flood water

The initial idea was for a floating structure, but during the design process, BAT Studio decided a lifting system would work better, as when the flood waters receded, a floating structure could come to rest atop uneven debris and silt.

Once a flood warning is issued, the owners pack their greenhouse with furniture and other possessions that are at risk from flood damage, then raise the structure via remote control. It then remains in a level raised position until the owners deem it safe for it to be lowered again.

The Greenhouse That Grows Legs was completed in early December, 2015.

Source: BAT Studio

10 comments
Robert Walther
A 2.6 foot flood safe building will guarantee a 3 foot flood.
Keith Reeder
"as when the flood waters receded, a floating structure could come to rest atop uneven debris and silt." And this won't do that, how, exactly? Are the owners going to crawl around under the thing to clear out whatever detritus the flood waters have deposited, before lowering it?
gizmowiz
Every house built along a coast line or a river should be MANDATED to have hydraulic legs to lift them up to 20'! I get so tired of outrageous home owners insurance because others are screwing up and building homes in dangerous areas. It's simply not fair. I can't wait till some company gets smart and refuses to insure ANY home or business building of any kind when they reside in a 1000 year flood plain and then offer discount rates to smart home owners. Now wouldn't that be a smart insurance company plan? To only insure those with smarts?
Peter Kelly
This seems like an extraordinarily expensive and flawed way to resolve the problem and perhaps just a little odd that it took 5 floods before they acted! I'm intrigued as to how, exactly, they intend to load it in the event of yet another flood. Much of the news footage we have seen recently suggests that most people don't get any more than the bare minimum up the stairs of their house, so I suspect they'll be under water before they get a chance to react. And even if they can, it assumes the power will still be functioning...
Bob Flint
You would have thought they got the message after the second or third flood. So in 15 years it has flooded 5 times those odds are more like 1:3 not the 1:100 which typically is referred to hundred year flood level. Maybe they should have gotten a bedrock anchored houseboat, & don't forget to tie a line to the amphicar...
frogola
why not just a ramp. 2.5 feet whats that three steps.
Eletruk
I want to know more about that car-boat they are standing in front of.
jeffbloggs
Bob Because a ramp would not have merited a mention on Gizmag... Just build the house on stilts that much higher, you wouldn't even need to move furniture....or maybe even move from England...who wants to live there anyway? The weather is wet enough even without it flooding your house! ;-)
Nik
In Isleworth, there used to be a flood record board, close to the church. I'm sure that the various flood levels there, were greater than 2.6 feet, more like 5' or 6' from memory, so this device might be totally useless if a flood greater than anticipated occurs. It only needs a couple more inches for a disaster to occur. They should have stayed with the floating idea, which is simpler and employed an Engineer, rather than an Architect, probably a Dutch one would have been best as they are fully conversant with floating homes. With a folding net skirt to keep large debris from getting underneath, [small debris wouldn't have mattered] it would have been a much better long term solution, and wouldn't have required all that expensive hydraulic equipment, that is dependent on electric power, that may be cut off in a flood.
Nik
PS. Hydraulic rams require replacement seals periodically, should one fail during a flood, the most likely time to discover the problem, then the whole structure becomes useless.