The Benefits of a Pyramid-Shaped Greenhouse

The author shares Bill Warren's story of using a pyramid-shaped greenhouse and how it holds up to bad weather better than your standard greenhouse.

| September/October 1977

Bill Warren shares his experiences of using a pyramid-shaped greenhouse and the benefits of this unusually shaped greenhouse.

You wouldn't expect to find a pyramid (of all things) in a hollow in the mountains of West Virginia . . . but there it is: a tall, pyramid-shaped greenhouse, a wood and Plexiglas structure sitting in the middle of a field. It's Bill Warren's "Giza Greenhouse".

Bill didn't build his greenhouse in the form of a pyramid in order to harness "pyramid power" (though strange things have occurred inside the structure) . . . rather, he built the little conservatory the way he did for reasons of strength. You see, Bill once undertook the construction of a standard vertical-wall greenhouse on his farm . . . but just before he finished it, a 74-mph gale picked the building up and flung it 100 yards across the hollow. That's when Bill decided to build his next greenhouse in the shape of a pyramid.

"I've read where some people claim that a dome is the strongest type of structure," says Bill: "But I wonder if the pyramid isn't actually more rugged. A dome consists of many small triangles, whereas the pyramid uses four large triangles that lean against each other." Suffice it to say, Bill Warren's latest greenhouse hasn't blown away yet . . . and it doesn't look as if it ever will.

The pyramid-shaped greenhouse — which has the same proportions as the Great Pyramid of Giza — measures 16 feet on a side at the base and 11 feet high. This gives its walls a slope of 51 degrees. The building's framework — four 2 by 8's with 2 by 6 and 2 by 4 bracing — is covered on three sides (east, south, and west) by .010 inch-thick Plexiglas, and on the north side by heavy roll roofing. (The north wall is insulated and features ;reflective backing on its inner surface,to help hold and distribute sunlight and Btu's inside the building during winter months.) The whole structure rests atop 2 foot-tall vertical support walls made of 1 inch-lumber. (Which makes the unit's overall height 13 feet.)

Inside the pyramid-shaped greenhouse is a 6-1/2 foot square second-story platform or "loft" which can be used for sleeping and/or dehydrating foods. A humid greenhouse may not seem the !deal place to dry crops, but Bill has had excellent luck drying corn, popcorn, zucchini, tomatoes, peas, herbs, and peppers in the upstairs portion of his pyramid. (He doesn't grow plants upstairs, however, because it's too inconvenient to water elevated trays and pots.)

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