Go with the flow: This house escapes floodwaters by rising on hydraulic stilts

Five floods in 15 years is enough to dampen anyone’s mood. But instead of moving away from the shores of the Thames, Middlesex residents Erica and Peter got in touch with BAT Studio to help find a novel solution.

David Di Duca and Jonty Craig’s architecture studio came up with the Greenhouse that Grows Legs. It’s not a full-fledged house, but a sort of sanctuary for when the water levels start rising and a functional space during drier times. The steel frame was specially made for the building and outfitted with four hydraulic legs that let the house hover about 2.6 feet above the ground in case of floods. The couple can move valuable items they don’t want to get soggy in there, but otherwise they use it as a greenhouse.

“One key objective for the project was to achieve a building with the smallest step up into it as possible,” architect Jonty Craig told Fast.Co. “This was both practical for the ease of quickly loading heavy items into the building but also for aesthetic reasons.”

The Thames is also the site of another home built to withstand floods. The Amphibious House, built by Baca Architects, usually sits on a ground, but if the river starts flooding, the dock below the house starts to fill with water, and the building rises and floats on the water. While the hydraulic house simply does away with pipes and plumbing, the Amphibious House uses flexible, extendable pipes to keep things operational as the water rises. It’s the first of its kind in the U.K. and will sit only 33 feet from the flood-prone river. Considering the number of cities vulnerable to flooding, the more affordable ways to safely and affordably flood-proof homes, the better.

Emerging Tech

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