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The secret of Somerset House

The iconic Somerset House has recently gone under construction, but passers-by might not have noticed thanks to an ultra-realistic building wrap.

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The trompe L’oeil on Somerset House, which was product by Project Print Management

Overlooking the south side of the River Thames, the façade is covering ongoing building works to the historic structure. Somerset House is a grade one listed building and is regularly open to the public and tourists from around the world, meaning that keeping up appearances is of particular importance.

The company behind the impressive building wrap is Project Print Management (PPM). Its owner and creator, Justin Murray, explains: “This type of wrap is called a trompe L’oeil building wrap and they are somewhat of a specialised craft. The process begins with a team of engineers and designers collecting accurate measurements and photos of the building façade, which are then carefully edited to create the perfect realistic perspective, colour and scale.”

This type of wrap is called a trompe L’oeil building wrap and they are somewhat of a specialised craft

He continues: “A framework is then built over the building scaffolding that will hold the printed wrap exactly in place to create the optical illusion during the construction work. Our team then co-ordinated a skilled specialist rope access team to install the enormous print on the frame.”

Somerset House is used throughout the year to host events – including in the winter when it is transformed into an ice-skating rink, and also for the Film4 summer screenings where it is converted into an open-air cinema.

This particular building wrap was printed digitally on a five-metre wide-format printer, using UV ink technology onto Verseidag mesh PVC banner material, which has the ability to let wind through.

Before the building wraps were in place

“Most of our work is on period buildings, and it’s always challenging to get our print to visually represent the actual building. This is the art of the process – making it look like nothing’s there,” says Murray.

Murray and PPM have created numerous building wraps for blue chip clients such as the BNP Paribas building, The Monument to the Great Fire of London and even those in sport such as Everton Football Club.

Having worked with the print company that he founded at the age of only 19, Murray founded Project Print Management in 2011 after managing his original company for 18 years.


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