Alex Monroe Studio

How can the complex needs of a working jewellery studio be creatively accommodated within a micro-scale ‘container for craft’ that responds to the physical constraints and historic contexts of its setting? 

Alex Monroe’s new jewellery studio is within a stone’s throw of The Shard in the Bermondsey Conservation Area. The building is a handcrafted addition to an existing Edwardian single storey shop-front. The horizontal details of the precious handmade zinc facade subtly relate to the proportions of the neighbouring terraces, while the grey bronze tonality picks up on the surrounding buildings and their diverse shades and colours. The building is structurally constructed entirely from prefabricated cross laminated timber panels that are left exposed on the inside, the use of which has removed 27.1 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere.  

The building provides workshop and studio space, alongside a boutique store, a meeting space and a roof terrace. Large sliding doors in the workshop allow for generous engagement with the street, providing a place to extend one’s view as a counterpoint to the intimate work on the jewellery bench, whilst the third floor balcony extends the outdoor into the interior. 

Activities on each floor are connected by a spacious “social” staircase that offers itself as a space for exhibition and chanced encounter, therefore mitigating the challenge of a ‘Pencil Building’ – a Japanese term to describe narrow buildings on tiny sites. 

“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 year, it is a strategy that carries continued relevance”. - Ellis Woodman

Architect: DSDHA 
Structural Engineer: Structure Workshop 
Cost Consultant: Robet Martell and Partners 
Contractor: Neilcott Construction Limited
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