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3rd May 2016

Glass Rooms - A Lasting English Obsession

Are we seeking more light, wanting to be part of the outside without having to brave the elements or simply the Kudos of keeping up with the Jones’? Whatever the reason, the trend for adding glass rooms to our homes has not wavered since the first orangeries over 500 years ago!

15th & 16th centaury Italian nobility used Roman inspired architecture to grow citrus trees. Hence it was given the name 'orangery' and structures used large walls and hardier plants to protect the trees. They were built for two main reasons; durability and convenience, but designed to be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical.  The style transferred into larger glass buildings, using the walls of gardens as the foundations; the beginning of connecting the orangery to the house and the house to the garden. Orangery became an increasingly common addition, incorporating brick into the designs to suit the architecture of the building.

By the 17th century, other northern European countries had become aware of the beneficial use of this style of glass architecture. It was established that other varieties of exotic and tropical vegetation, such as pineapples and ornate plants, could be grown in European climates with the help of Glass Houses. This was the birth of the conservatory, which was used like a fashionable green house.

Today the word conservatory is as likely to conjure up the image of a tatty UPVC lean-to as that of a beautiful wood, glass and brick structure.  Modern architecture leans more towards heavily glazed extensions, which contrast, rather than blend with, the original building and use all manner of materials.  The glass room is no longer constrained by traditional styles or strict planning rules, and as such can be anything the client desires or the designer is imaginative enough to propose.

Why is achieving planning permission easier for a glass room?  Current thinking varies from council to council, but is increasingly leaning towards the requirement for a clear distinction between the old and the new.  As a result structures are more likely to be accepted if plans show a clear stylistic or physical bridge rather than a blending of the original building into the new section.  This is great news for those who want to blend the old with the new and to embrace current trends in terms of materials and building techniques.

What is the glass room draw?  Modern living is all about the flow of the space and where we spend most time in our homes.  In finding the balance in the melee of family lives, work, cooking and entertaining, natural light in our main living space is key.  Extending our homes by adding a glass room or conservatory lends itself towards the creation of a large open plan space and brings the light and the outside in.

Glass Rooms truly come in every shape and style.  We love the eclectic nature of our commissions - and that the chance to work on something new and different is always just around the corner.  For wood framed structures we invariable turn to our sister company BarrJoinery who have produced some truly stunning glass houses; click here.  Metal framed glass structures are built in conjunction with carefully selected glass suppliers with StuartBarrCDR as the main contractor.

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