The Orangery: A New Kind of Extension

There’s a new kind of building fad on the rise in the North of England…

They’re attractive, environmentally friendly and a little archaic but window companies in the North West are receiving more orders for them than ever before.

Inspired by Victorian aesthetics and now more environmentally friendly than ever, traditional orangeries are popping up all over the North, bringing a new level of class and distinction to areas that are in dire need of it. So many questions have arisen from this discovery.

Why are these companies busier than ever? Why are there now so many orangeries in Manchester? And just where did this trend begin?

The North of England has been home to a number of traditional Orangeries for decades. These visually arresting buildings were, more than often, attached to stately homes, providing their rich owners with space to store plants and trees that were susceptible to the cold. They also gave eager horticulturalists the opportunity to cultivate fruits that would not usually survive in the North’s chillier climate.

Great examples of orangeries that have survived into the modern age can be seen across the North, tucked away in the corners of grand parks and attached to manor houses.

Despite their fragile nature, they have been maintained throughout the years so that the Great British public can continue to enjoy them. In Liverpool’s Sefton Park, the Palm House plays host to weddings, late-night dance raves and school proms. During the day, all is peaceful as visitors to the park can wander through and explore the wide range of exotic plants that grow in there.

Over in Barnsley, Wentworth Castle is home to a quintessential example of Victorian orangery. Ornate iron framework and fine detailing make this a must-see piece of architecture, even without the broad range of plant life inside. Taking one and a half years to restore, the £3.5 million project returned the 130-year old building to its former glory and showed the people of the North how grand an Orangery could really be.

A modern orangery, built with the finest of modern materials has several advantages over its older counterparts, making it an ideal addition to any home (as long as there is space to build it). Instead of single pane glass and iron frames, windows now come double glazed with high-tech PVC for extra insulation. Ultra-modern designs allow orangeries to be built in almost any style that the customer desires and lightweight materials make the build much quicker than a traditional extension.

Perhaps the reason why orangeries have seen a significant spike in popularity in the last few months is their eco-friendly nature.

Ethically sourced PVC, combined with thick double-glazing, means that homeowners can benefit from extra space in their rooms whilst saving money on their energy bills and helping out the environment. Of course, should they so wish, exotic plants and fruits can even be grown, leaving the homeowner with endless growing opportunities.

As more and more of these buildings come into fashion, we’ll no doubt see a return to prominence of more Victorian styles. Who knows what the next archaic design concept will be to receive a modern update? An anti-gravity grandfather clock? A solar-powered rocking chair?

The sky’s the limit. 

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Efficiently Farming American Heroes

American has been working hard to shake of its reputation as a gas-guzzling nation of meat-eaters.

Leading the charge are a dedicated band of agriculturalists who are choosing to put the environment first, whilst still creating profitable businesses; demonstrating how margins can be increased by using truly innovative techniques.

In his book , The Lean Farm, Ben Hartman strives to show how farmers can increase their profits by reducing their land size.

40% of all the food produced in America, inevitably, goes to waste.

In a land where over 42 million people live in houses with insecure sources of food, there’s clearly something wrong with the way this country’s production lines are functioning.

Ben decided to make a change, starting with his own holding. He tackled efficiency in his farm by reducing his holding from 3 acres down to 1, growing 30 varieties of specialist vegetables and fruits. By staggering his planting schedule he has been able to maximise crop yield and reduce his waste by a fifth; he’s now reaping the rewards as his profits are skyrocketing.

Its not just farming in the countryside that is improving leaps and bounds in innovation.

Marianne Cufone’s own brand of ‘recirculating farm’, in her home city of New Orleans, is proving that large scale farming can be achieved with the smallest of plots.

The third most poverty stricken county in the States, healthy food is in short supply in Louisiana, with 18% of homes not having access to good sources of nutrition. To show how ordinary people could grow their own healthy ingredients with limited space, Marianne used homegrown bamboo to create scaffolding that could support multiple stacks of plots.

Growing staples such as cucumbers, tomatoes and strawberries; she used an eight square foot, rubber lined pond for irrigation and fish waste as fertiliser. This kind of setup can be erected for $6,000 and could potentially be installed anywhere.

Environmentally friendly farming in America is also learning to embrace emerging technologies like AI.

Irving Fain’s Bowery Farming uses hundreds of sensors connected to a massive network in order to measure the health of the crops in inside his indoor vertical farm.  Every possible variable is accounted for, from moisture to LED lights to the plant feed, this allows Irving to produce enough veggies to deliver to three Whole Food stores (as well as a number of restaurants) without the use of pesticides.

Considering that his farm uses 95% less water than the average US holding and the food travels less than 10 miles to reach its destination, its hard to see how food production could get much greener.

However, the food product that is at the root of our current environmental woes is the one that is most widely eaten: meat.

Not only does meat production require a mammoth amount of water, it also ends up producing an insane amount of methane gases. Although hundreds of thousands of vegans argue that we can halt this by simply not eating animal-products, a handful of companies have sprouted up to offer another alternative.

Uma Valeti is one such innovator, attempting to grow meat in a lab. Cruelty free and without the same environmental impacts, Memphis Meats debuted their first lab grown chicken breast this year, although it cost $9,000 to create – food critics reported that it tasted just like the real thing!

Thanks to innovative startups and ambitious farmers like the above, America is forging its own path into a greener future.

Lets just hope we can keep up! 

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