National Institute of Agricultural Botany - Bridge Greenhouses

National Institute of Agricultural Botany


New Research Facility

Bridge Greenhouses are excited to announce that we have recently completed a state of the art glasshouse facility along with two multi-span polytunnels for NIAB at their research facility in East Malling.

The bespoke turnkey project involved the design and installation of a 2,300m2 glasshouse comprising of 21 individually controlled climate compartments. The compartments ranged from 24m2 to 384m2 to offer a huge amount of flexibility for trials of varying sizes.

The two 2,000m2 multi-span polytunnels also provide 14 individual growing compartments, each with a separate lobby area.

The growing conditions within the glasshouse compartments are precisely controlled using a combination of heating, cooling, shade screens, blackout screens, vertical screens, LED and HPS Grow lights, misting lines, ventilation fans and a drip irrigation system.

A Trend BMS system supplied by our partners Unigro, monitors and controls every aspect of each growing environment to ensure they maintain exactly the right climate, while maximising energy efficiency.

Two highly efficient 1MW Air Source Heat Pumps provide the cost effective, low carbon heat source for the entire glasshouse. They work in conjunction with bespoke fan coil units within each chamber to distribute the heat evenly over the whole area. The fan coil units were carefully designed to operate effectively at low flow temperatures in order to maximise the efficiency of the air source heat pumps. They also have the added benefit of eliminating the need for an array of heating pipework in the roof of the glasshouse, which increase the shading on the crop.

A 168kW chiller plant supplies the cooling for some of the compartments, which utilise a combined heating/cooling fan coil unit to evenly distribute the air.

Some compartments utilise double screens with a blackout/shade cloth combination, while others have a single energy/shade screen to further improve the environmental control and energy efficiency of the glasshouse.

The glasshouse forms part of NIAB’s GreenTech Innovation Hub, which also included a new high-tech facilities building, constructed by the main contractor SDC builders, along with plant growth chambers installed by Unigro. The Greentech Innovation Hub will add to the existing capabilities at NIAB to conduct innovative research in collaboration with the industry including developing varieties and growing systems of the future to deal with the challenges and opportunities which the UK horticulture sector face. For enquires about collaborating with NIAB at East Malling contact

This project was a unique opportunity to allow Bridge to showcase some of the latest technologies being used in the glasshouse industry as well as creating a facility that would meet all our client’s immediate and future needs