About the Project
Services: water harvesting, construction, masonry, timber frame design, food production
The Taylor family engaged OnGrowing Works to build a multifunctional greenhouse that included water harvesting and food production systems. Key considerations for the greenhouse included using passive energy to heat the greenhouse, relying on storm and melt water to irrigate the plants, providing a low maintenance design, ensuring the structure could hold large amounts of snow, resist high winds and use minimal amounts of well water, and incorporating a space for the family to relax and enjoy in the shoulder season.
The OnGrowing Works team collaborated with the Taylor family to understand their vision and budget. It was decided that the low maintenance design options would rely on natural materials to build the greenhouse. The structure was built on a sloped space in the east part of the driveway to ensure that it restricted west sunlight so that it did not overheat. The east location also positioned the structure by the garage and a forested area to maximize optimal sunlight. OnGrowing Works created a water harvesting system that captured and stored stormwater and snow melt off the greenhouse and main house roofs to irrigate the plants. A conveyance system was installed from the eavestroughs to the water storage tank which helped measure the volume of water collected. If the tank filled before the water can be used, the sloped location relies on gravity to drain excess water. In addition, the greenhouse’s foundation used Insulated Concrete Foundation (ICF) to insulate the tank, and the tank water and the natural stone floor provided a passive solar heat to the greenhouse.
Raised wicking beds required little moisture.
A conveyance system captures water from the roof and travels through the downspout and into the water tank which is located under the greenhouse floor.
The water harvesting tank captured and stored stormwater and snow melt off the greenhouse and main house roofs. An Insulated Concrete Foundation (ICF) was placed overtop of the tank and hidden by a hand-crafted floor using native full-bed rundle masonry material from a Canmore, Alberta quarry.
OnGrowing Works focused on using mostly cradle to grave materials, meaning that the environmental impacts associated with each stage of a product’s lifecycle were evaluated. This greenhouse floor used native full-bed rundle masonry material from a Canmore, Alberta quarry, and local Rocky Mountain fir was used to craft timber frames that were held together with oak dowels. The greenhouse walls and roof were made with tempered glass, and OnGrowing Works’ craftspeople used full bed stone masonry for the greenhouse base. The inside of the greenhouse was designed for two purposes:
- For the Taylor family to enjoy the space during the colder shoulder months
- To grow food during the summer and the shoulder months
To create a family space, OnGrowing Works incorporated a bistro table inside the greenhouse that allowed the family to enjoy a meal and relax. To accommodate food production, raised wicking beds requiring little moisture were built into the design, while the passive solar techniques and stonework ensured that food production was extended into the shoulder months through passively heated water storage under the floor.
OnGrowing Works took the Taylor family’s vision and created a low maintenance water harvesting and food production greenhouse that also served as a space to relax. While the sustainable design and focus on passive solar heating allow the Taylor to grow food in the shoulder months, the true value of the greenhouse is found in the meticulous hand cut structures built by OnGrowing Works’ craftspeople.
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OnGrowing Works incorporated a bistro table inside the greenhouse that allowed the family to enjoy a meal and relax.
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