ORANGERIES VS. CONSERVATORIES
Orangeries and Conservatories: What’s the Difference?
Common Ancestry in the Walled Gardens and Pergolas of Europe
Parting Ways in Northern Europe
The orangery (or orangerie) first caught on in Northern Europe where it was necessary to provide additional shelter for—you guessed it—orange trees. These delicate plants were susceptible to frost, so a typical orangery was an enclosed structure built with stone, wood, or brick featuring tall windows on the southernmost wall. This design was later augmented by the addition of slanted or sloping glass to achieve even greater levels of natural light via the roof (a Dutch development). More delicate plants were kept in the earliest greenhouses, while similar buildings emphasizing maximum natural light levels became known as conservatories. The addition of stoves and fireplaces in these structures ensured that the plants they contained would remain warm even on dark, winter nights.
These structures often served as symbols of prestige with respect to both the delicate, exotic plants they housed and the expensive, high quality materials used in their construction. Even after agricultural developments and new trade routes made access to imported citrus more reliable, these structures remained in frequent use, often serving as places for social gathering and relaxation. As time went on, it slowly became more common to see orangeries and conservatories on property owned by the rising middle class.
England became the top region for orangery and conservatory construction by the 19th century. This lasted until the setbacks of World War 2. After the war, new developments like insulated glass heralded a shift in focus from traditional Victorian conservatory and orangery building methods toward more rudimentary, prefabricated sunroom designs.
These simpler design methods reigned until the 1970s, when a resurgence in creative architecture led to many firms revitalizing the use of these classic and Victorian designs in residential construction. By 1981, Sunspace Design was one such firm dedicated to bringing this level of quality craftsmanship to the United States. We’ve been New England’s leader of custom glass structures ever since.
Differences Between Orangeries and Conservatories in the Modern Era
Modern orangeries and conservatories are usually built as home extensions which overlook a scenic vista, be it a home garden, backyard lake, or simply the surrounding environment. Both structures can be used for relaxation, horticulture, or socializing. So what are the key differences?
Because orangery walls use more wood and conventional construction elements, they’re easier to blend with the property’s existing architecture. Conservatories—featuring more glass than the typical orangery—are more likely to stand out.
These trends are carried through to the roof. The orangery roof is typically solid and is sometimes accented by a central glass element like a skylight. By contrast, the conservatory roof features large, glazed glass spans and an almost fully-glass design. Traditional conservatory roofs also feature more traditional design elements like gables and eaves, whereas orangery roofs are flatter. At Sunspace Design, we can give both orangeries and conservatories any design elements you’re interested in, and can blend either structure seamlessly with your home’s existing architecture.
Sunspace Design Orangery and Conservatory Comparison
Custom Orangery with Central Skylight
This colonial orangery features many of the prototypical orangery design elements: tall windows built into the construction and a central glass element in the roof (in this case a hip-style skylight).
The Right Option for Your Home
All of our structures feature the same excellent mahogany framing and high performance glass. Our products are built for New England, which is why we’re the custom glass structure industry leader throughout our service area in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. And because we design, manufacture, and install all of our wood and glass products ourselves, we can ensure that you receive excellent value for your dollar. We offer complete service which takes you from an initial concept to a full implementation (including all of the required permitting and sub-contract trade management).
Whether you’re interested in a Sunspace Design orangery or conservatory, our design solutions will be precisely tailored to meet your needs. Contact us today. We can also be reached via email at email@example.com, or you can reach us at 1-800-530-2505 if you’d like to speak with a representative quickly. Whether you’re a homeowner, builder, or architect, we’re ready to work with you.