Gunnebo was designed in the 1780s by the Gothenburg city architect C.W. Carlberg as a magnificent summer residence for the merchant John Hall and his family. The kitchen gardens and greenhouses were an important part of the estate, and the orangery was completed before the main building. When Gunnebo House was inaugurated in 1796, the greenhouses were already full of exotic plants. In 1809, an inventory was made of the greenhouses, and 440 plants were listed, including bitter orange, laurel, olive and pineapple. After John Hall’s death in 1802 and the bankruptcy of the trading house in 1807, the greenhouses soon fell into disrepair. In 1809 the orangery was already damaged by rot, and by 1830 the building had been demolished. Among the more than 200 preserved architect drawings, there are around 20 that describe the orangery.
Gunnebo’s orangery is being rebuilt here in its original location. The reconstruction of the orangery is based on the interpretations and studies of the architect C.W. Carlberg’s drawings from the 1780s, period watercolours, archaeological excavations and historic sources. Following the acquisition in 1949 by the Municipality of Mölndal, Gunnebo has gradually been restored with the vision to recreate the estate as it looked around year 1800. The orangery is being rebuilt to show visitors its appearance and function during the period 1786–1818. The building is an important part of the overall experience of the 18th century environment at Gunnebo, both as an architectural jewel and a focal point for the culture of exotic plants.
A central part of the reconstruction of the orangery at Gunnebo is to preserve the knowledge of traditional craftsmanship and to train a new generation of artisans. The shortage of traditional building craft skills has been identified by authorities responsible for cultural heritage, both nationally and internationally. The training at Gunnebo orangery is carried out in collaboration with the Västra Götaland Regional Council, the University of Gothenburg, consultants, entrepreneurs and authorities. The project enables work experience in the skills required for the rebuilding and offers opportunities for young artisans within areas such as timber construction, cabinet-making, stucco work, stonemasonry and tiled stove making.
The reconstruction of the orangery started in December 2013 and will be finished during 2017. Each phase is planned by a design team including the restoration architects, engineers and artisans. The orangery is expected to be in use in 2018.