How do you protect a building from frequent floods? While some architects build elevated structures on stilts and others make theirs buoyant, Between Art and Technology (BAT) Studio decided to take a different approach with a building that “grows legs” to escape rising waters. The Greenhouse That Grows Legs is a timber structure equipped with four hydraulic legs that lift the building off the ground as a defense from the River Thames’ floodwaters.
BAT Studio designed the greenhouse for Middlesex homeowners Erica and Peter, who love their riverside home but needed a solution after suffering their fifth flood in 2014. “When we bought the house in 2000 we were told the flood risk was 1 in a 100 but we have flooded five times,” Erica told Gizmodo. She also owns an amphibious car. “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 29-square-meter bespoke Greenhouse That Grows Legs mitigates flood risks with a hydraulic lifting system that can raise the building 800 millimeters off the ground. BAT Studio decided against a floating structure because of the risk that the building would rest on top of uneven debris when the floodwaters receded.
Completed in December 2015, the greenhouse was constructed from glue-laminated timber sections supported by a steel frame. Natural light enters through the gaps between the timber slats and columns and is covered by strips of glazing and mirrors, giving the structure an “ambiguous visual effect” that blends it into the surrounding landscape. In times of floods, the homeowners move their possessions from their garage and storage area to the greenhouse and raise it via remote control.
Images via BAT Studio