Friday, 16 May 2014 00:00

What is the difference between an orangery and a conservatory!?

A frequent enquiry we receive at Glass Houses is; “what is the difference between an orangery and a conservatory and which should I choose for my house?

Well, firstly you need to decide what you want to get out of your extension. Here is a brief insight as to how the traditional conservatory and orangery came about, the purpose of materials that are available and the development of the structure to help you decide which is suitable for your home.



The classic style orangery originated during the Renaissance, in the 15th and 16th century, Italian nobility used Roman inspired architecture to grow citrus trees. Hence it was given the name 'orangery'.

This was done by using large walls and hardier plants to protect the trees. They were designed for two main reasons; durability and convenience. However they were still built to be aesthetically pleasing as well as practical.

The idea transformed into larger glass buildings using the walls of their garden as the foundations. This was the beginning of connecting the orangery to the house and the house to the garden. They soon became a feature on many houses who then started to incorporate brick into their orangery designs to suit the architecture of their house.


Coming into the 17th century, other northern European countries became 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.


There has been a lot of speculation as to whether the difference between an orangery and a conservatory is with the base work, quantity of glass or the roof. Actually it is combination of all three components. However some are more subtle that others and less important when looking at it as a whole. Either way both structures can be very versatile.

The base works/ foundations

This is a pretty standard procedure as all ground floor plans use the same technique to prevent the building sliding around in the ground over the years. Of course, it does vary due to soil type and the angle of ground on which your extension is built on.



Underfloor heating is optional. *Celotex – insulation board. *DPM - damp proof membrane.

The framework

The general rule is that a conservatory has to contain a lot more glass than an orangery to give it its name, however with a bespoke service a conservatory can have as much brick work as the homeowner wishes it to have. An orangery is dependent on a more solid base to support the roof. It also typically uses a matching material to the house to become a part of it rather than just an extension.

Typical roof for an orangery.


The main concept is a large plastered flat roof with a roof lantern placed typically centrally; however you can also have what is called a lean too, pretty self-explanatory, which allows for a lantern to be positioned against a wall at the back. There are countless designs for a roof lantern as it can be made in many shapes. The solid part of the roof lantern not only adds stability but also conjoins one room into another creating an enclosed extended room.

Typical roof for a conservatory


Here you can see that a conservatory roof is a fully glazed unit. There is no flat roof between the guttering and the glass units. This opens up to give you tremendous amounts of natural lighting.



Here is another very typical roof for an conservatory is a gable design. Again you can see it is a fully glazed unit with versatile style.









With a bespoke service endless opportunities and variations of design are open, this means one could choose to have any number of doors and windows or as few as you like. There are various materials you can pick for the outside finish depending on the style of your house or how contemporary you wish it to look. In the in the images above you can see how a conservatory is not limited to a predominantly glass design and in turn an orangery has the capacity to still let in a lot of natural light.