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Welham Studios by Mark Merer, Somerton, UK

Categories: Architecture + Interiors

Mark Merer’s work is rooted in the elements. They range from kinetic and balletic sculptures that move with the wind, to solid grass tors hewn from the earth. He was brought up in Malaya, where he spent much time on the beach flying kites and much of his work retains a love of light and air. But just as influential, perhaps, were the hours he spent digging sand. “I like to understand the landscape,” he says, “not just by walking through it or looking at it but by splitting it open to reveal what’s underneath. I want to peel back the crust to reveal Mother Earth.”

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Welham Studio, designed for Landhouse, is a housing module developed from the Swinomish project at Washington State. Constructed from structurally insulated panels (SIPS) clad in Thermoform three-strand ply, with a meadow roof. A variety of layouts have been designed for home, holiday or work and three basic sizes have been developed. Welham studios is the larger of the three designs.

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The Penncocks, a couple from Seattle, was interested in Merer's work and how it would translate to a building form. That is how Landhouse project was born. Merer took off with the idea with the help of architect Art Peterson of Cedar tree Architects in Seattle. A meeting was organized and out of it came the idea to develop an environmentally sensitive scheme for an allocated development area. The structures were refined and developed into module units comprising of Elder, Student, Single Family, Vacation, Multifamily and community facilities.  

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Merer got back to the UK and decided to build an example of the larger unit. It became Welham Studios, from which Merer and his wife, artist Lucy Glendinning, work from. The building is constructed in structurally insulated panels using the factory in Seattle that was involved in the Swinomish project; this was to be a test for the modular units. Thermoform 3ply cladding was used. It came in 5m by 2m sheets. The roof is an EPDM membrane with a inbuilt root barrier, a 100mm substrate with a wild flower turf.

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