The different types of oak garden buildings and their uses can be confusing and unclear. Often their names are used interchangeably but these are the clue to their original purpose. Of course, in the modern era, many are used in ways their creators could never have imagined. However, the combination of old and new materials used in their construction are often reflected in the way they are utilised. Many oak garden buildings are still employed in traditional ways without their owners even realising.
During the current period of lockdown, many home areas are being repurposed or adapted for a new way of life. The additional space and privacy garden buildings provide can be a huge benefit in this case. For those working from home or isolated with family members they can be an oasis of peace and calm.
Oak Frame Extensions
There are three types of oak framed garden buildings built as an extension to an existing structure: conservatories, garden rooms and orangeries. While they share common features, each has a distinct form based on their historic origin.
1. Oak Framed Orangery
These first became popular in Renaissance era Italy, eventually spreading throughout Northern Europe in the 17th This was partly due to advanced glass manufacturing techniques in Italy allowing large panes to be made. As the name suggests, they were originally built to house citrus trees, giving extra warmth in Summer and shelter in winter. Often they would incorporate a south facing garden wall topped with large panes of glass for maximum sunlight and warmth. A solid brick wall to the north would provide shelter and insulation. This would be topped with a flat tiled roof with a timber framed, glazed ‘lantern’ in the centre. In the winter, straw insulation and a stove would be used to maintain the warm temperature. Orangeries were only a feature in the houses of the wealthy due to the expensive glass used in their construction. The tropical plants grown within were also costly to import and orangeries rapidly became a status symbol. Modern orangeries are usually timber framed with a brick or timber lower wall and double glazed glass panels.
2. Oak Framed Garden Rooms
Garden rooms most resemble a traditional house extension with extra glazed panels. In the 17th and 18th century they were a multi purpose room with a variety of functions. They were used as ice houses, laundry rooms or for other jobs likely to create a mess in the home. In the 20th century modern technology rendered them redundant and they were incorporated into the main living space. The combination of an enclosed sheltered space with a large view of the garden soon became a desirable addition. In contrast to orangeries and conservatories, they usually have a fully tiled or otherwise opaque pitched roof. Some homeowners choose to incorporate glazed panels into the roof for additional light but this is not a traditional feature.
3 Oak Framed Conservatory
Translated from latin, conservatory literally means ‘ a place for storage/ preservation’. The original conservatories were unglazed structures for storing food. The name was adopted for the glazed structures we now associate with it as places for conserving or protecting plants. The modern style of conservatory originated in the 17th century as a way for scientists and the wealthy to protect plant collections. Explorers and naturalists were importing plants from all corners of the empire unsuited to the British climate which needed protection. The pre 1845 tax on glass and the wrought iron frames needed to support the weight of glazing made them an expensive luxury. Heating the structure was also costly and a domestic conservatory was often considered pretentious and vulgar. Thankfully modern materials, double glazing and central heating have eliminated these issues and conservatories are now an affordable, attractive feature. For contemporary oak framed buildings all three are a sympathetic traditional addition with a multitude of uses.
With many people now working from home, garden buildings offer an attractive, bright space for a home office. The effect of lockdown on mental health is a concern to many and a well lit, quiet space for reflection or meditation is an obvious advantage. The presence of natural views or plants within the space have a calming, comforting effect on the mind. Pursuing hobbies is a good way to keep the mind active and garden buildings are a great place to practice. The natural light is perfect for painting, photography or other visual arts.
For homeowners with children, garden buildings are an attractive space to enjoy time with their family. Access to the garden allows family activities and shared hobbies to be conducted indoors, outside or both. Exercise is important for all family members and again, weather permitting, both environments are accessible for this.
Detached Garden Buildings
1. Oak Framed Gazebo
Gazebos have existed in one form or another for five thousand years, dating back to ancient Egypt. Examples have been recorded in many cultures, from Greece and Rome to China and Japan. Although the name dates back to 12th century poems, it has only been commonly used since the mid 18th It is thought to be a loose translation of the Latin for ‘I will gaze’, a perfect description of its main use. In all cultures, gazebos have been used as a shelter for quiet contemplation and meditation. They are also attractive and pleasing to the eye, especially in a natural material such as oak. With the current ban on social gatherings, many people are hosting private weddings at home and streaming them online. Gazebos have always been a favourite feature of wedding venues for photographs and videos. For a private ceremony shared online they are the ideal location. For individual exercise such as yoga or tai chi, a gazebo allows you to practice outdoors whatever the weather. They are also a perfect backdrop for Youtube and Tiktok videos, more popular as a means of expression now than ever.
2. Oak Framed Outbuildings
Not everyone works well with distractions around them, some of us need peace and solitude. A private outbuilding detached from the main home is the perfect solution. It can provide a quiet location for online meetings with no chance of children, pets or partners accidentally intruding. If nothing else, a chance to close the door on the world and clear your mind in isolation is sometimes invaluable. With more people at home constantly, more space may be needed in your main home. The extra storage space of one or more outbuildings to temporarily declutter can be a huge help.
At Hardwoods Group, we have a range of oak framed garden buildings to suit all needs. If you have something different in mind or a unique project to enhance your home, contact us. We offer a bespoke frame design and manufacture service to make it reality. We also supply wholesale oak timber. Whatever your requirements, we can help.
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