Could Second Home help reinvigorate west London’s creative community?

Photography: Iwan Baan

As London’s creative centre shifts ever further east, Second Home has chosen an unexpected location for its next space: the well-heeled residential enclave of Holland Park.

The workspace innovator has commandeered the former home of legendary 1960s fashion photographer John Cowan. Working with SelgasCano – who designed Second Home’s first space in Spitalfields and the brand’s Lisbon outpost – it has created a colourful, plant-filled base spanning 12,000 sq ft for its community of creative entrepreneurs.

Second Home Holland Park might be an entirely new breed of workspace for the area but, with Olympicopolis vying to tilt London’s creative epicentre towards Stratford, why is the group seeking to buck the trend?

‘It’s really unhelpful when a city becomes too imbalanced,’ says cofounder Rohan Silva. ‘For a long time it was the east that was neglected [in terms of creative investment], and now it’s the west. I think that will change.’

Photography: Iwan Baan

Holland Park may be synonymous with stucco-fronted Georgian mansions, but it’s also home to the new Design Museum and is fringed by the HQs of fashion mega brands including Stella McCartney and Monsoon. Victoria Beckham is moving her empire to Hammersmith, just down the road, while over in neighbouring White City, the BBC’s old Television Centre is being transformed into homes, broadcasting studios, a Soho House outpost and 255,000 sq ft of workspace.

Second Home Holland Park sets a high benchmark for the latter. Beneath the structure’s soaring trussed roof is a small forest of 35 trees, which swoop their way around curvaceous desks and glass office cocoons. Richard Rogers designed walkways for the building when it served as his HQ in the 1980s, which SelgasCano have retained, while adding new skylights to the roof and uniting the cluster of volumes with Second Home’s characteristic colour scheme.

Photography: Iwan Baan

‘We want to help business escape the bland corporate cubicle,’ says Silva. ‘We care about architecture because we believe it helps businesses grow. Google are spending £1bn on their headquarters at King’s Cross because they know that it will help them win the war for talent. We’re trying to level that playing field… help small teams do better.’

Among Second Home Holland Park’s new residents are Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH Nails; music company TenWest; recruitment innovator Nurole; and new streaming app Marquee Arts TV.

Photography: Iwan Baan

Second Home curates this mix carefully, in order to help teams forge business relationships and create opportunities for growth. ‘We’ve found that 75% of teams at Second Home are doing business with other people in the community, which is very high,’ Silva explains. ‘The architecture really helps that because you can see everyone else.’

So will Holland Park experience a creative resurgence? The cost of space in the area remains a critical factor – and one that’s reflected in the Second Home pricing.

Flexible ‘roaming’ membership cost £450 per month in Holland Park, compared to £375 in Spitalfields. As Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic joked at the opening, ‘It’s oddly appropriate that Second Home – which began life in Brick Lane – has now set up somewhere where there really are people with second homes.’ But the group’s new workspace certainly fills a gap for west London’s creative community and could be a catalyst for growth.

Photography: Iwan Baan

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