What are Conservatories?

What are Conservatories?

What are conservatories? Conservatories are glazed structures that feature a glass roof and/or glass walls. These structures can be attached to existing construction or be manufactured as standalone units.

Modern greenhouses and conservatories are visually similar, but differ in function. While conservatories can house and even propagate plants, their primary function is the creation of additional living space. Conservatories serve as seating areas, dining rooms, living rooms, kitchen extensions, and pool houses; the possibilities are endless.

Sunrooms and conservatories are functionally very similar, but are differentiated by the level of stylistic decor present in the structures design. Conservatories by nature are highly decorative, featuring window grids, finials, crown molding, Palladian arches, ridge cresting and other decorative elements.

The History of Conservatories

Conservatories originated in the 16th century as a way to preserve citrus and other plants brought back by explorers to Europe. Citrus fruit was generally brought to Europe from the Mediterranean or other tropical areas, so conservatories were used to protect them from the colder European climates. In Italy, simple pergolas or “limonaia” were constructed over potted plants. In England, the structures were commonly known as an orangery (because of the fruit grown in them). Orangeries were historically constructed from wood, brick, or stone with tall vertical windows on the south side.

Advances in technology ushered in the golden age of conservatory construction in the 19th century. In England, many magnificent conservatories were constructed of iron and glass. The advent of World War two saw a halt of wide spread conservatory construction and a uptick in the construction of simple sunroom additions.

As advances in aluminum and glazing began to find their way to market, the demand for decorative conservatories grew once again. Manufacturers like Solar Innovations, Inc. are now able to provide conservatories with a classic, Victorian aesthetic, while utilizing thermally broken aluminum framing and energy efficient double or triple pain glass.

The Benefits of a Conservatory

Dual Use – Conservatories can act as multi-purpose rooms. Not only can a dinning or sitting room be staged in a conservatory, but the room can be filled with plants that will thrive due to the high level of natural light the space receives.

Extended Living Space – The addition of a conservatory to existing construction can provide valuable square footage. The structure can be utilized as a dining room, living room, office, or as additional entertaining space.

Health Benefits – Exposure to natural sunlight has been shown to positively affect the mood and mental state of occupants. Sunlight also contains Vitamin D, which can be absorbed more easily when in a glazed structure, do the increased exposure to sunlight.

Aesthetic Value – Decorative conservatories are frequently designed to be the focal point of architecture. The use of decorative elements allows the structures to exhibit a classic English style, which can be designed to seamlessly match existing historic structures.