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Work nears completion on DSDHA-designed jewellery workshop

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Construction is nearing completion on this new workshop in London Bridge Road for jewellery designer Alex Monroe by architect DSDHA

Slotted between a pub and a corner-shop, the 200m² scheme features a Cor-ten steel external ‘veil’ behind which sits a generous ‘social staircase’.

The workshop is DSDHA’s second project for Monroe and follows on from the £440,000 Stephen Lawrence Prize-shortlisted Snowsfields Studio in nearby Bermondsey which completed in 2012 (see AJ 04.09.14).

Dsdha alex monroe workshop section

The architect’s view

The new-built workshop presents an enigmatic and finely crafted storefront. Its bespoke Cor-ten steel external skin responds to the eclectic surrounding brick architecture, while clearly signalling the building’s function as being neither retail nor residential. Its materiality hints at a world of creativity and artistry; it marks the presence of a type of activity that, although at risk of disappearing, is now more than ever central to our city’s cultural and economical well-being and as such deserves recognition.

The façade’s horizontal metal blades establish a rhythmic harmony with the composition and articulation of the immediate streetscape, whilst achieving a moiré-like visual effect. This veiled appearance acts as a protective shield, which modulates light within the workshop while allowing passers-by at ground level to catch a few glimpses of the activities inside. It is an architecture in conversation with its context, and also with the people that pass by or inhabit the area.

Inside, a generous ’social staircase’ is located at the entrance – just behind the street façade – connecting, both visually and acoustically, the different floors, activities and users within. A roof terrace provides a verdant refuge for the artisans, away from both the busy street and the close-work of jewellery making. Light is constantly modulated and captured to channel as sense of connectivity with nature throughout the building and enhancing well-being. These architectural devices continue the narrative established at Snowsfields Studio – aiming to provide convivial workspaces capable of mediating between the interior sphere and the city, between making at a small scale and participating in wider world-networks. In so doing they preserve and nurture creativity and the cultural infrastructure that still persists in our city and enriches it. 

DSDHA's scheme for the Alex Monroe Workshop in Tower Bridge Road

DSDHA’s Alex Monroe Workshop in Tower Bridge Road

Project data

Location: 42 Tower Bridge Road, London, SE1 4TR
Type of project: Commercial (Jewellery Workshop)
Client: Alex Monroe
Architect: DSDHA
Landscape architect: N/A
Planning consultant: N/A
Structural engineer: Structure Workshop
M&E consultant: Integration
Quantity surveyor: PT Projects
Planning supervisor: N/A
Lighting consultant: N/A
Main contractor: Philiam Construction
Funding: N/A
Tender date: May 2015
Start on site date: September 2015
Completion date: Winter 2016
Contract duration: 13 months
Gross internal floor area: approx. 200m²
Form of contract and/or procurement: Traditional procurement / JCT Standard Building Contract with Quantities

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