Welch House by The Manser Practice
The Manser Practice have designed a modern family house for a client they have already worked for before. This time, the Welch House is located on a dramatic seaside site on the Island of Wight in England. The home has four bedrooms and features a large, open plan living area that tries to make the most out of the beautiful site.
The house was designed to replace an existing shack on a very steeply sloping site but at the same time, there was a requirement to keep the cost of the house as low as possible, which was very difficult to achieve because the ground conditions on the site were notoriously unstable.
From the architects: “Our client approached us to design a family home on a steeply sloping wooded site on the Isle of Wight overlooking the Solent, having bought the site cheaply as ground conditions were considered too difficult to build on.
Working closely with the structural engineers Malcolm Woodruff and Elliott Wood Partnership, a scheme was designed with a two storey box balanced on a teardrop shaped concrete tube fixed to the hillside by piles and soil anchors.”
“The project was handled as two contracts: a civils contract for the ground works and a construction contract for the above ground works. Budget and programme were both critical.
We designed the house with the living room on the upper floor to maximise views over the Solent, and utilised high gloss painted cement particle board cladding to reflect the colours of the surrounding trees during the changing seasons.”
“After a protracted planning application process (3 years) involving research on the site going back to the middle of the 19th Century and negotiations with the Environment Agency the problems of physical construction on site were addressed with the complex concrete construction below ground, tying the building into the more stable bedrock 30m below ground level, and difficult access.
The building is designed to have a small as possible physical footprint on the ground and for the house itself to appear to float within the trees as a simple, polished black box.”
“Internally finishes are clean, simple and economic. For reasons of economy all glazing is fixed and ventilation and cross ventilation is provided by a series of floor level opening panels and roof lights.
The lightweight steel and timber two storey ‘box’ of the house is roofed using timber self spanning insulated panels (SIPS) and the cladding to the building gives gentle reflections of all the enveloping surrounding trees.
The construction time, including ground works, was 18 months.”