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They Come in Threes: Three Unusual Greenhouses

GreenhousesRecently, Growers Supply joined the Pinterest world. For those who aren’t familiar, Pinterest is basically  a virtual bulletin board for ideas, wishlists and so on. After being intrigued by an interesting greenhouse design that I came across while posting on the Growers Supply page, I decided to look into some other unnusual, pretty awesome greenhouses. These three stood out.

  1. The Jellyfish Barge Self- Sustaining Hydroponic Greenhouse by Pnat.

This greenhouse, recently relocated from Nuavoa Darsena, Milan, is completely self sustaining. The greenhouse consists of a wooden frame with glass panels. The barrels it floats atop of are all made from recycled plastic.


The self-sustaining greenhouse works by purifying salt water through the use of solar panels. The panels provide the energy needed to purify the water, as well as power the fans and ventilation for the barge. Once the water has been purified, the fresh water is then pumped throughout the greenhouse. The goal is to produce crops using the least amount of resources possible.



Image courtesy of Studiomobile 2010

The Jellyfish Barge can hold up to seven ladders hooked with five channels for crops to be grown hydroponically. This system is capable of producing up to 400 heads of lettuce.


In 2015, The Jellyfish Barge won six awards, including the International Award on Innovative Ideas and Technologies, which is promoted by UNIDO and CNR and first place at the Giovani Talenti Imprenditoriali, which is a startup competition promoted by the Italian Agriculture Ministry.


  1. The Walipini

Also known as the underground greenhouse or pit greenhouse, the walipini design originated from the Aymara Indian word for “place of warmth.”This style of greenhouse resides within the earth rather than on top of it.


The walipini design is effective because of the thermal constant. Throughout a majority of the world, the temperature four to five feet below the ground’s surface stays at a constant 50- 60° F. This is known as the thermal constant, and it is because of this that the walipini design is valuable.


These greenhouses are most successful when they are small in size.  A typical walipini is 8 feet wide by 12 feet long. Some have been considerably larger in size, requiring depths of up to ten feet below the surface.


Roofing is extremely important with this style of greenhouse. If designed improperly, these structures will have a very minimal opportunity for success. In order to receive maximum amounts of sunlight, the roof should be facing the winter solstice. One other important factor to consider is that the roof should be placed so that the sunlight shines through at a 90° angle. Without this aspect of the design, the crops will likely not be able to thrive.


With proper planning and construction, the walipini design can work marvelously and be especially beneficial in areas of the world that are very difficult to grow in. For example, areas such as Mongolia are particularly cold in the winter months, averaging about -13° F. Mali and Tunisia, on the other hand, feature the opposite issue of growing, the heat. By having greenhouses below the surface, the thermal constant provides the possibility of vegetative growth.


  1. The Eden Project- The World’s largest Greenhouse

Located in a massive crater in Cornwall, United Kingdom, resides the world’s largest greenhouse known as Eden. The Eden Project is an educational charity with the goal to connect people and promote working for a successful future.


Image courtesy of

Eden homes two large biomes, the Rainforest biome and the Mediterranean biome, housing over 1,000 varieties of plants common to each region. These include fruits and herbs that are not native to the United Kingdom, such as chili peppers and aloe.


Image courtesy of

The 230 miles of scaffolding used to create the biomes was just the first record Eden broke in the Guinness Book of Records. They’ve previously held the record for longest picnic table and the world’s largest garden spade, and Eden still holds the record for the largest greenhouse in the world. Spanning a massive 22 miles, Eden holds over 2 million plant varieties.


Image courtesy of

These are the three most interesting, unique and revolutionary greenhouses I have come across. If you have found any others, please let Growers Supply know by leaving a comment below!

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