The big obstacle facing anyone looking to enlarge an existing room by adding a new building is the loss of light in the original part. How much of an issue this is will depend on the situation; if the original room is at the corner of the house and has two outside walls with windows, then there will still be a source of natural light if the extension only covers one of the external walls.
However in many situations the remaining window may not allow much light in, particularly if it’s at the side of the building and overshadowed by a neighbouring structure, or it may not exist at all. In this scenario the designer should mitigate this loss of natural light by incorporating a high proportion of glazing into the extension.
“Traditional” pitched-roof extension
For many architects and clients, a regular brick-built extension with a pitched roof incorporating one or more roof windows is the obvious answer. This will often feature a vaulted ceiling, giving and airy and spacious feel, and perhaps some large windows and/or doors.
This type of room can be very impressive internally, but the external appearance can often lack character and look clumsy. Having enough space to fit the roof below the upstairs windows is often a problem and the roof pitch has to be either excessively shallow or the projection restricted. There is only a limited choice of roofing tiles that can cope with shallow pitches and they are unlikely to match those on the main building.
“Traditional” flat-roof extension
One way to overcome the issue of restricted height is to use a flat roof. Whilst potentially relatively economical, these types of extension are generally unpopular due to their lack of aesthetic appeal and the fear of likely technical problems in the form of leaks.
The latter should not be a concern if built correctly, but it is rare for a flat roof extension to have any visual appeal. Furthermore, the low ceiling will not aid the natural light problem.
Conservatories remain one of the most popular methods of extending domestic properties. They provide light in abundance and if designed well and constructed correctly can greatly enhance the external appearance of a property.
Unfortunately there is a price to be paid for the profusion of light; that price is climate control. Manufacturers of Insulated Glazed Units are continually trying to improve their products, and modern conservatory glass has excellent insulation and solar control properties. Nevertheless, conservatories with a large proportion of glass can suffer from getting too cold in the winter and too hot in the summer. It is difficult to obtain building control approval for a conservatory to be used as a kitchen extension for this very reason.
The modern orangery can provide the best of all worlds, the light and airiness of a conservatory, the solidity and substance of a traditional extension and the versatility of a flat roof. The adaptability of orangery construction makes it easy to create an extension which will blend in with the original; building.
The size of the glazed central lantern can be adjusted to suit the situation; larger for northerly aspects where there is less natural sunlight, smaller for south-facing buildings. Similarly, the size and quantity of windows and doors can vary according to location and orientation, orangeries can work well with lots of glazing on all elevations, or a small amount on one side.
For many people, the aesthetics of the orangery provide the main appeal; the wow-factor of the glazed lantern when viewed internally or the intricacy of the decorative fascia on the outside. Whatever the reason, the demand for orangery kitchen extensions is strong and likely to remain so.