House vs. barn question at issue in renovation

Architectural compatibility can be arbitrary

Dear Barry: My home is located in Cheshire, United Kingdom, and was built in 1625. I want to put on an extension — a sort of orangery. I believe you Yanks call it a sunroom. The building planners say that an orangery doesn’t belong on a barn. That’s a nerve. The house is in the shape of a barn, but it is far too sophisticated a building ever to have been one.

My vicar, who is very knowledgable on local history and geography, says it was never a barn! What do you recommend? –Christine

Dear Christine: Whether or not the home was ever a barn is not relevant to the question of whether to install an orangery. All that should matter is whether it suits your purposes and does not adversely affect the health and safety of occupants or the community.

Opinions on architectural compatibility are often arbitrary, rather than practical. Planners and their ilk should learn to think outside the box. If someone wants to add an orangery to a Spanish mission or a dog house, planners should determine how to make it work — not discount it according to trivial standards of societal acceptability.