We are slowly hurtling towards a dystopian future where cities raise themselves on hydraulic legs to begin the long hunt for resources. Only, in this case, replace cities with greenhouses, and the only resource being hunted here is dry land.
Wrasbury is a town some 29km west of London, England, which has found itself flooded five times in the last 15 years. Since it’s difficult to build flood defences to prevent a flood plain being, erm, flooded, one pair of residents has come up with a unique solution.
They built a large greenhouse in the backyard, which lives on a set of hydraulic legs, much like you’d find on a portable construction crane. Most of the time, it’s just a greenhouse, but during a flood, it can raise itself 80cm off the ground in order to prevent flood damage. That not only saves the couple’s plants, but provides a safe refuge for possessions during surges.
It seems like an elegantly simple (and cheap!) solution to the problem of localised flood defences. If the local or federal government fails to adequately prepare for a flood, residents are normally left with the options of evacuation, or fighting a losing battle with diggers and a small mountain of sandbags.
This is just a greenhouse, but logically, there’s no reason you couldn’t jack up entire houses on a hydraulic mechanisms. Sure, you’d need a big motor, but replacing an entire floor of your house doesn’t come cheap.
On the other hand, there’s an intrinsic danger to flood protection becoming localised in this way. If, sometime in the future, the majority of residents in an area have locally-defended houses, local government is far more likely to cut back on expensive flood defence, leaving those too poor to fend for themselves. Maybe some kind of city-wide hydraulic suspension system, possibly with wheels to relocate to less flooded land, should be the solution.
Image via BAT Studio