Born to Evoke the Joy of Light and Life

Posted February 8th, 2018 by Nicole Mihalos and filed in Lectures, The Arts, Uncategorized
Comments Off on Born to Evoke the Joy of Light and Life

Typically, a design brainstorm session at Tanglewood starts something like this:

“The family wanted something so unique and have a sense of history that there was nothing like it anywhere in the world” – A Client’s Representative

The solutions We propose are often a mix of the old and the new, a synthesis of the contrasts of glass and steel, wood and copper, light and dark – and a sum greater than the parts that went into it. Indeed, nothing less than an experience.

Two disciplines that Tanglewood champions are the architecture styles of Art Nouveau and that of the European and American Conservatories, innovations and traditions that sought to fill very different yet similar needs.

As Tanglewood President and Director of Architecture Alan Stein points out:

“Art Nouveau started as an intentional search for a new aesthetic, whereas conservatory design started with a response to an actual need – to conserve orange trees and other over winter through the use of glass. It then developed into an aesthetic, not so much because of an ideological position, but because it was not possible to use the existing classical architectural language for glass buildings. Classical architecture is based on masonry construction where it is the “solid” walls that are the important elements.”

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Architect and Engineer Bill Bertsche warns that “True conservatory design takes experience, talent, a keen eye for detail, and innovation. You cannot build a conservatory the same way you build a house [There must be] much more flexibility for design & detail.”

The architectural styles and inspirations of Art Nouveau provide those options. With its emphasis on the organic and its evocation of living organisms, Art Nouveau was born to live. This is particularly evident in the trees, flowers and other botanical embellishments that typically can be found in the details of Art Nouveau inspired buildings.

As the Encyclopedia Britannica comments, “Art Nouveau is characterized by its use of a long, sinuous, organic line and was employed most often in architecture, interior design, jewelry and glass design, posters, and illustration. It was a deliberate attempt to create a new style, free of the imitative historicism that dominated much of 19th-century art and design.”

Conservatory architecture, on the other hand, was born of a need to preserve.

Initially, Conservatories were seen as a place to preserve the conditions of a growing environment for the fruit trees and other botanicals of the Elite, as well as to provide a refuge from the calamities of the Outdoors. Indeed, the root of “conservatory” is postulated to be from the Latin “conservato”, relating to the Ancient Roman practice of having specific rooms or building designated for the preservation or “conservation” of food stuffs.

Together the two styles create an aesthetic for organic, living spaces that breaks from the traditions before it and grows it into the future. As Architect and Tanglewood Collaborator Dan Russoniello comments, “When working with the environment we end up with a better quality of life as well as a better sustained quality of life.”

So, what is the Future of Conservatory architecture?

Dan observes that:

“People are amazed at the absolute beauties of the… historical conservatories and they don’t realize that they are still being built. And the ones that are being built today are in many ways equally beautiful and equally experimental – in terms of the use of technology and engineering – as they were in the day when they were built a hundred years ago.”

Alan concurs when observes that:

“There is huge interest right now in building new conservatories, renovating existing conservatories … We would like to assist in pushing that initiative forward by offering something which is really not offered out there, which is a … history and an insight into the beauty and the relevance of the building itself … In terms of the building and its pedigree and its possibilities I think we’ve got something unique to offer the public that they find really interesting.”

Ralph S. Dweck residence in Bethesda, Maryland photographed May 17, 2017 by Walter Smalling.

To see examples of Conservatory architecture from the past check out our web-gallery at http://tanglewoodconservatories.com/heritage/gallery/

And to see a portfolio of current projects that Tanglewood has assisted with or completed check out http://tanglewoodconservatories.com/our-portfolio/

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Tanglewood Conservatories is more than a collection of craftspeople and designers devoted to the new renaissance in glass and steel domestic architecture. We are Caretakers of the Conservatory traditions – past, present, and future – and We will enjoy sharing our knowledge and passion for this living architectural style with You and Your Clients.

Contact us via phone at 410-479-4700. Or, if you prefer to communicate via the Web, you can fill out our web-query form at http://tanglewoodconservatories.com/contact/ 

Tanglewood Conservatories – After all, “Anything else … is just another room”