The Alex Monroe Studio, Snowsfields is a new jewellery studio, sited within a stone’s throw of The
Shard in the Bermondsey Conservation Area, providing a showcase for Alex’s growing international
Consisting of a handcrafted 3-storey addition to an existing Edwardian single-storey shop front, the
building provides workshop and studio space, alongside a boutique store, with meeting and dining
spaces on the upper levels as well as a roof terrace with views towards London Bridge.
The new building operates as a bespoke ‘bookend’ to the original terrace, creating a strong prow that
completes the street frontage. The design maintains the continuity of the shop fronts, whilst the
additional floors form a separate metal clad volume that sits lightly above.
As in Alex’s previous studio in Iliffe Yard, South London (where DSDHA are based) connections with the
outside world are critical to providing good working conditions, and every opportunity to connect with
nature was therefore seized. Sliding doors to the workshop open onto the street and allow for interaction
with the world, providing a place to extend one’s view as a counterpoint to the focused work of the
jewellers within. A balcony at the third floor extends the sense of openness in the dining/meeting room,
and windows with a variety of outlooks are carefully placed to maximize engagement with the urban
landscape. Individual activities hosted on each floor are connected by a spacious ‘social’ staircase,
claimed as an additional exhibition space and place of chance encounter, mitigating the challenge of
what is, in effect, a Pencil Building (a term coined in Japan to characterize narrow buildings on tiny sites.
The facade is precious, precise and carefully made; it is designed to celebrate the ‘art of making’.
Featuring a slightly dark grey-bronze tonality the facade has a lustrous finish that subtly picks up on the
surrounding buildings and their diverse tones and colours, and change in luminosity over the duration of
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 elevation, across the workshop and
meeting room levels, offering unobstructed views to the surrounding area. The horizontal detail relates
directly to the neighbouring terrace to reference, but not mimic, the context.
The building structure is constructed entirely from prefabricated structural 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.
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