PPM fabricates a fancy fake facade for an iconic edifice


On the north bank of the Thames, just east of Waterloo Bridge, the iconic Neoclassical facade of Somerset House is instantly recognisable. And while the Grade I listed building is currently undergoing some restoration work, the building has been adorned with an ultra-realistic building wrap that covers the scaffolding structures and construction work taking place underneath.

What was produced?

Carried out by building wrap specialist Project Print Management (PPM) and its longstanding print partner Vertical Vision, the job involved the photo editing, printing and installation of a trompe l’oeil building wrap.

“The process begins with a team of engineers and designers taking accurate measurements and photos of the facade, which are then carefully edited to create the perfect realistic perspective, colour and scale,” said PPM owner Justin Murray.

“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 coordinates a skilled specialist rope access team to install the enormous print on the frame.”

What did the job entail?

The 275sqm wrap was digitally printed onto Verseidag mesh supreme PVC banner material using an EFI Vutek GS5000r eight-colour UV printer and finished on a Forsstrom TDW high-frequency welder.

The process takes considerable skill: “Getting the building wrap looking lifelike is our ‘art’. Although we will not reveal all our trade secrets, things like scale, perspective and colour need to be correct,” said Murray.

“Good quality print and installation is key. Installing a scaffold sub-frame is also required, which is unfortunately often the lion’s share of the costs. The installation team are IRATA qualified, rope access experts and we contract this out.”

What was the feedback?

Tom Robertson, director of marketing and digital at Somerset House, said: “We are delighted with the work that PPM have done for us to wrap the scaffolding on the North Wing of Somerset House, while the Courtauld Institute of Art undergoes a major transformation of their home and Gallery in the North Wing.”

He added it was produced to such a high standard “that a number of our visitors mistook it for the real architecture”.


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