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Defining Orangeries

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The classic orangery dates back to the time of the Renaissance when Italian nobility used Roman inspired architecture to create an inside room with a solid masonry wall used for growing citrus fruits, hence the name ‘orangery’.

The orangery is very different in its design and construction and is often chosen as it sits better with the architecture of the host building.

The main difference between an orangery and a conservatory is in the construction of the roof. An orangery features a glazed rooflight or lantern which has a smaller footprint than the overall roof structure itself. This allows for a much lower roof pitch with an angle of 22.5 degrees (rarely more than 25 degrees) and therefore the amount of glass is significantly less too. Internally, the resulting appearance creates a softer ambiance and a roof profile that is sympathetic to a wider variety of architectural styles.

Orangery GutterOrangery Gutter

The roof structure of an orangery will also differ to that of a conservatory and will incorporate a traditional, wide, hidden box-gutter to the perimeter of the lantern. This drains water through chutes into traditional hoppers and downpipes. By comparison, the glazed roof of a conservatory covers the entire footprint of the structure, resulting in a much greater roof pitch, rarely less than 30 degrees and this can be overbearing in sensitive architectural surroundings.

The other fundamental difference between the two buildings is in the side-wall design; an orangery is much more substantial aesthetically compared to a typical conservatory and this starts with the deep moulded fascia – called an entablature which sits above and to the perimeter of the doors and windows.

Traditionally, this entablature has a wide lead cap and the surface of this along with the glazed lantern drains into a hidden box-gutter behind. A less costly imitation of an orangery roof would see the glazed lantern sitting proud on top of a flat roof which then drains into a normal gutter attached to the edge. These structures will never replicate the delicate and essential ‘Classical Orders of Architecture’.

Below the entablature, a classic orangery will generally incorporate columns flanking each window and set of doors. The columns will feature a period base and capital detailing and internally these columns will be mirrored with identically profiled pilasters. Another key signature of an orangery is the bold colonnade affect created by these columns, an orangery without this, is simply a glazed structure without architectural identity or merit.

Vale’s belief that a well-designed orangery should always follow the ‘Classical Orders of Architecture’. These determine the scale and proportion of the individual elements – such as the depth of the entablature, column heights and widths, fenestration and glazing detail, all in relation to each other. This can be a complex and highly skilled undertaking and only a truly bespoke manufactured orangery can reflect this detailing with high degrees of architectural accuracy and empathy.

Orangery Gallery

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History Of The Orangery

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The term Orangery was coined in the 17th century when it became fashionable to have a room for growing citrus fruits. These orangeries featured on period residences and would have a distinguished classical architectural form.

It was from the Italian Renaissance Gardens that the orangery originated, when glass-making technology enabled sufficient expanses of glass to be made. The Dutch then led the way in developing panes of window glass that could be incorporated in stately, grand Orangeries; designs of which, were often vast compared to those of today. These normally incorporated elaborate windows with curved fanlights, but over time as the range of trees and plants to be wintered grew, these windows were replaced with full-length rectangular sliding sash windows.

The Orangery was not just a room to house plants, it was a symbol of status, prestige and wealth and formed an impressive architectural feature of the owner’s garden, who would proudly give guests guided tours to admire the fruits within and the magnificent architecture housing them. The interiors would also contain decorative fountains and areas to entertain throughout the warmer months.

Orangeries nowadays are wonderful extensions to our homes and Vale understand the history of this style of structure, providing depth of knowledge and skills to interpret original elements into their designs today. Their designs are both impressive and true to the name.

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