Edmund de Waal Studio and Gallery II

How can a neglected industrial building be reshaped as a place of artistic practice and creativity? 

DSDHA has converted a 1960s munitions warehouse in West Norwood, South London, into a second studio and gallery for the internationally acclaimed ceramic artist and writer Edmund de Waal.  

As with de Waal’s own work, our approach has been to embrace rather than conceal the industrial character of the existing structure, creating a bespoke setting for the artist’s work, in dialogue with the building’s essential characteristics. 

Following the narrative of de Waal’s first studio in Tulse Hill, also designed by DSDHA, the result is a series of connected environments reflecting the many processes taking place in the studio: from technical and practical activities of working with clay – including throwing, glazing and firing – to studio management, archive, and storage, as well as display of de Waal’s work. A modest palette of materials unifies these spaces, resulting in a calm yet highly scenographic and light-filled working environment that balances the relationship between making, displaying and contemplation. 

Accessed via a discreet industrial yard, the studio opens into a generous hallway, which offers glimpses of both the library and the studio. The entrance volume flows into the expansive main studio: a highly flexible space which allows de Waal to test how his work can be displayed, by simulating the different environmental conditions of the galleries where the pieces are ultimately shown around the world. 

The large industrial space is augmented through a series of new walls, stairs, and mezzanine floor levels, to define a series of separate working areas for de Waal’s team. These include a mezzanine studio where the pots are thrown, and a contemplative area for de Waal’s writing and research, which is on the first floor but connected to the main space by means of a double height void. 

This collaboration between DSDHA and de Waal extends their ongoing conversation which has developed while working on projects such as ‘5 Ways of Standing Up’ and ‘The Silver Building’ other than the previous studio for the artist. 

Architect: DSDHA 
Structural Engineer: Price & Myers 
Cost Consultant: Stockdale 
Contractor: BRAC
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