Alex Monroe Studio Snowfields - “Craft in the city” - Alex Monroe has been succesfully making jewellery in Southwark for 25 years. In 2009 DSDHA were asked to develop his new jewellery studio in Snowsfields, within the Bermondsey Conservation Area, to provide a showcase for Alex’s growing business which was previously based in Iliffe Yard, alongside DSDHA’s architectural studio. The proposal adds a hand-crafted 3 storey element to the existing Edwardian single-storey shopfront, providing sales, workshop, studio, meeting and dining spaces as well as a roof terrace with views towards London Bridge. The new building operates as a ‘bookend’ to the original terrace, creating a strong prow to the street frontage. The proposal maintains the continuity of the shop front, whilst the additional floors form a separate
‘container for crafts’, which sits lightly above. Made entirely from prefabricated timber panels, the use of which has removed 27.1 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. Internally this simple structure is left visible. This raw finish provides a robust setting for the studio where all the built-in furniture has been made from the same timber specifically for each part of the jewellery making process. Over time the timber will reveal a patina of use, recording day-to-day life. Echoing the nature of the activities that are taking place inside, the building’s façade is precious, precise and carefully made. Ellis Woodman in BD said “The building makes a picture of the world around it, drawing seamlessly irreconcilable parts into an artistically considered whole. In a London that grows ever more heterogeneous by the y
ear, it is a strategy that carries continued relevance”. The façade is clad with high quality pigmented zinc, inspired by the wide range of materials visible locally, whilst having a slightly dark grey-bronze tonality. The lustrous finish subtly picks up on the surrounding buildings and their diverse tones and colours, and change in luminosity over the duration of the day. The spacing of the vertical ‘fins’ on the elevation shifts selectively in front of windows to animate the facade and control views in and out of the building, introducing dynamism in the street and de-scaling the building as a micro-tower in the company of both the Shard and Guy’s Tower. The rhythm of the facade is accentuated with a double-height glazed area on the south facade, across the workshop and meeting room levels, offering unobstructed views to the surrounding area. As in Alex’s original Iliffe Yard studio, sliding doors to the workshop open onto the street to allow engagement with the outside world, providing a place to extend one’s view as a counterpoint to the close work of the jewellers within. DSDHA - The award-winning architectural studio DSDHA was founded in 1998 by David Hills and Deborah Saunt. Since then the practice has established an international reputation, delivering a range of high profile residential, mixed use and education projects that blur the boundaries between landscape, architecture and art, while questioning our preconceptions about the city. DSDHA's architecture is always evolving, and for us each project is a bespoke response to a unique brief through dialogue with our clients. Our approach is always focused, sustainable and elegant. We carefully balance the risks & opportunities of a project through our expertise, commitment and patience. Our research into new and existing methods, materials and technologies is complemented by our rewarding experience of collaboration with a network of specialists. Our approach enables each project to achieve its fullest potential, whether it is a single building or an entire urban quarter.