Oak Conservatories UK
An orangery is distinctive form of building characterized by a flat roof with a clear
glass roof lantern.
Traditionally orangeries were built on stately homes to host exotic plants which required
a combination of light and warmth to flourish. In the early 17th century orange trees and
pomegranates became popular features in orangeries in the large estates across Europe.
Today the role and function of the orangery has changed from an opulent environment for
foreign plants to a place which is the favourite domestic living area in the house.
The trend towards buildings with more natural light and greater use of glass has led to an
upsurge in the adoption of orangeries as the natural way to extend an existing home. The
orangery has now become the new kitchen and breakfast room providing an open plan space in
an area exposed to natural light.
However, if you are considering extending your home and opting for an orangery rather than
a classic extension or a conservatory there are several key aspects to consider.
Main construction - Brick, Stone or Timber
More traditional designs comprise the brick buildings with stone pilasters that encase
timber windows and ornate stone cornices that rise above the flat roof. However a growing
trend is towards orangeries where the walls are fabricated from hardwood, often in a
premium timber like oak which can be naturally oiled to create a lavish interior
One Lantern or Several
An orangery can have one or several lanterns. A single large lantern will open the room to
more light. Multiple lanterns will concentrate the light into more defined spaces, for
instance above a breakfast table or a seating area. Planning the use of the open plan roof
along with the lanterns size and placing is essential.
Types of Lanterns
Lanterns can be made from three main materials: Hardwood, aluminum and PVCu. Hardwood is
the most popular domestic option, although aluminum is far more popular on big commercial
applications because of the structural requirements of larger spans. PVCu lanterns are
rarely used. Whilst they perform the same function they are less suitable for the more
luxurious designs of these buildings
The flat roof is an important feature of an orangery and one that will be viewed from the
upper windows of the house. The more traditional and expensive options are to cover the
roof in lead, copper or zinc. These require traditional craftsmen and require the roof to
be stepped to allow for the folding of the material. There are now arrays of synthetic
material that can be sprayed on the flat room that function extremely well and come with
long guarantees. However, avoid the cheapest option, which is a felt roof covering used on
common garden sheds.
The orangery roof lanterns often sit high above the room making the use of manual window
openers less practical, although some people opt do this via and extended pole. The most
common route is to use electrical roof vents which can be purchased with climate controls
and will close automatically when it rains.
Planning and Regulatory Control
All orangeries will require planning permission and building regulations approval. In
undertaking this it is essential that you employ professional help because unlike a simple
extension, complex calculations are often necessary to prove the strength of the roof
supporting the lanterns.
So, if you are considering an orangery where you should go for advice?
The options are more limited than if you were just planning a simple extension. Orangeries
are complex building and require a range of skills ranging from the existing survey and
design through to the co-ordination of a range of specialist trades.
There are a number of architects that can be contacted via the Royal Institute of British
Architects website on http://www.riba.org. Alternatively if you are looking for a
supplier than can undertake the design through to installation then there are specialist
conservatory companies that are experts at undertaking this work.
© 2006 Charles Turner
Managing Director – Oak Conservatories
To learn more about Richmond Oak orangeries visit
Note: This article was submitted by a second party and the contents are subject to