The Welch House sits on a steeply sloping site on a wooded foreshore where ground conditions are notoriously unstable, with blue slippery clay with rotating shelves underground.
The Manser Practice has opted for a very different finish for the Welch House: slick, glossy, enamel and jet black. In fact, the house is finished in cement particle board rainscreen cladding, simply painted with black enamel.
Foundations needed to be deeply piled and retained with soil nails and an early decision was to create a flat stable platform for a simple “box” house raised on legs above the ground. This allowed for the simplest possible below ground solution, reduced the area of house that “touched” the ground, avoided the need for complex and expensive multi level changes within the house whilst raising it “tree house” like amongst the trees.
An initial design for the building on steel framed legs proved too expensive, and so a compact tear shaped concrete tube design was created containing utility room and shower room. This was topped by a simple steel framed two storey box, containing entrance and bedrooms on the ground floor and study and living/kitchen area on the first floor. The roof comprises timber self-spanning insulated panels. The result was a reasonably priced, spectacular house on a site where others thought it was impossible to build.
Architects: The Manser Practice
Project: The Welch House
Location: Isle of Wight, UK
Date of Occupation: January 2009
Awards: RIBA Award 2010
Structural Engineer: Elliot Wood Partnership
Contractor: John Peck Construction Ltd
Ground Stability & Substructure: Malcolm Woodruff Associates
Steel Frame: DMR Engineering (I.W) Limited
Glazing / Doors: Scandinavian Window Systems Ltd
Image Credits: Morley Von Sternberg