More stories

  • in

    Second Home’s Rohan Silva on the Lisbon tech boom – and his plans for expansion

    Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva. Courtesy of Second HomeWorkspace innovator Second Home has announced it will invest an eight-figure sum in a second Lisbon base, a 6,000sq m space spread over three buildings due to open in 2019.
    The second hub will be five times larger than company’s existing Lisbon venue and will cater for both global companies looking for a Portuguese base and to local firms, with spaces ranging from communal shared desks to large private studios.
    Second Home Lisboa opened inside the 19th-century Mercado da Ribeira earlier this year. Photography: Iwan Baan
    ‘Lisbon is moving from a start-up phase to a scale-up economy,’ says Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva. ‘To date the focus in the city has been on providing infrastructure, training and funding to startups but now it’s time to build an ecosystem that supports growth. Our second space is part of that next step for the city.’
    Portugal’s economy expanded 3% in the second quarter of 2017, compared with the same period in 2016 and unemployment is now 8.5%, below the EU average. The city’s start-up kudos also continues to grow. This month’s WebSummit tech conference, which brought the equivalent of €200 million in revenue to Lisbon in 2015, attracted more than 62,000 attendees and is helping to drive Lisbon onto the international corporate radar. Mercedes Benz, VICE and Volkswagen are just some of the companies now based at Second Home in Lisbon and the company has already secured interest from ‘one of the world’s biggest high street retailers’ for its next Lisbon office, says Silva.
    Second Home Lisboa designed by SelgasCano. The group’s second Lisbon outpost will also be designed by the Spanish firm. Photography: Iwan Baan
    The firm will work with its regular architect, Spanish firm SelgasCano, on the project, which will also include a restaurant, a 200-seat venue for talks and events and a Portuguese and English language bookshop, all open to the public.
    ‘There are outdoor spaces and courtyards and we are planting trees. We want to keep the same design ethos of biophilia and lots of natural light. It’s going to be a campus that feels like real oasis.’

    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Photography: Iwan Baan

    Rising property prices in Lisbon are helping to drive companies towards shared spaces: since the nadir of 2012, the price of property in the city has increased by 35%. In upmarket suburb of Chiado, you can now expect to pay around €10,000 per sq metre, though the average in the city is closer to €2,500 per sq metre.
    ‘In five years’ time Lisbon won’t be the fashionable city that it is today but I think it will continue to be a city where companies and people can be successful and innovative,’ says Silva. ‘We need to use this moment of attention to focus on making the city structurally better, a place where global companies can land and grow but also where there is fair, equal access to opportunity for the people who live here.’
    The new Lisbon space will be the company’s seventh: a fourth London office opens next year and a Los Angeles venue launches in the first quarter of 2019.
    Read next: 5 Lisbon properties for sale with commercial potential More

  • in

    Second Home Lisboa: inside the creative accelerator’s first international outpost

    ‘We want to encourage serendipitous meetings and the clustering of different types of business,’ says Second Home co-founder Rohan Silva. ‘That’s how we believe creativity and innovation happens.’
    The tech entrepreneur has applied this mantra to two spaces in London so far, and now he’s exporting it to Portugal. Second Home Lisboa has just opened inside the storied 19th-century Mercado da Ribeira.
    Spanish practice SelgasCano – who also designed Second Home’s 25,000 sq ft east London space, as well as its bookshop Libreria – created the hub’s colourful interiors, which have been treated to a healthy dose of Yves Klein Blue and a plethora of plants.
    Second Home bills itself as the future of the workspace, offering up in-house restaurants, cultural programming and yoga and meditation spaces to its diverse mix of tech and creative sector entrepreneurs. We spoke to Rohan Silva about the move to the Portuguese capital, what makes Second Home Lisboa tick and how the workplace is changing.

    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Photography: Iwan Baan

    Why did you choose to expand to Lisbon?Rohan Silva: It was a business decision but it was a mix of head and heart. I first visited Lisbon three years ago and really liked it here. It reminds me of east London in 2010, before the Tech City explosion. There is energy, creativity and a real mix of businesses, from venture capitalists to film-makers, fashion designers and creative agencies. It’s much more than just tech. And that suits the Second Home profile; we aim to curate a mix of different industries in the space.
    Tell us about the Lisbon space.RS: Second Home Lisboa is on top of the city’s 19th century market hall and our offices overlook the fruit and vegetable vendors below. The building is an open, vaulting space and our architects, Spanish firm Selgas Cano, have respected that. There is a lot of natural light flooding in and we’ve used more than 1,000 plants and trees to demarcate spaces inside and to create privacy.
    This is a very eco-friendly building, too, with features like natural ventilation. There will be a well being space, an in-house restaurant headed up by Spanish chef Francis Paniego and a cultural programme of talks and so on.
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Lisbon shares the same architects and some of the same features as the London space, but in what ways is it different from the London venue?RS: In some small details it’s different – rather than the bookshop we have in London, in Lisbon we will have a lending library for members, with books in English and Portuguese. And the physicality of the space is very different to London too. But overall the intent is absolutely the same.
    Looking at the way we work more generally, is co-working as a concept still relevant today?RS: Co-working is absolutely still relevant. Desk spaces are a utility and an increasingly important one. Freelance workers are a very fast growing segment of the economy; in the US, 20 per cent of the workforce is already freelance or self-employed and in the UK there will be more freelancers than public servants by 2018. There aren’t enough spaces for people working this way; there need to be a lot more.
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Where does Second Home sit within the coworking concept?RS: We don’t consider ourselves a coworking space because, generally, as long as you pay for a desk you can work one of these. We curate the companies that work at Second Home and our focus is squarely on creativity, innovation and how to support it and make it happen. I think we are a new species of thing: a creative accelerator.
    What do you think the workplace will look like in 10 years time?RS: I think some of the things we are doing at Second Home now will become more common. Cultural programming for instance: people want to be inspired in the place where they work. There’ll be more of an emphasis on well-being, spaces and time for yoga and meditation. And physical design is important too; a building can really shape us. Our architects look at evolutionary psychology – which considers how humans adapt to the changing the world – and biophilia, which studies the affinity people have with the natural world, and create buildings that mimic and take aspects from nature. There are no straight lines in our buildings and lots of natural light, for example. I think we’ll see more of that in future, a focus on nature.
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Other than Lisbon, what’s next for Second Home?RS: Our next project is a family-friendly space opening in London Fields in spring 2017. It will have facilities geared at people with young children, including everything from a bilingual English Mandarin nursery to spaces for kids to park their scooters. That’s another trend I think we’ll see a lot more of in the future – child-friendly work spaces.
    We’re also planning to open another space in Holland Park later in 2017, in John Cowan’s former photography studio. It’s the space that was used in the 1960s movie Blow Up and we just fell in love with the building. Also, there’s a bit of an imbalance in London at the moment. All cultural energy has moved to the east at the expense of the west. We’re looking to address that, albeit in a small way.
    Read next: Inside Lisbon’s tech and co-working scene More

  • in

    Second Home are bringing a giant yellow dome to east London

    Second Home will install a blow-up dome in east London this autumn to host creative workshops and yoga sessions for a day.
    The creative incubator and event group’s pneumatic PVC structure – designed by Spanish practice Dosis – rises over eight-metres-high, and can be reconfigured from a single bubble into several rooms using a system of membranes and zippers.
    Dubbed Second Dome, the inflatable installation features a transparent canopy, spotted floor and bright yellow walls that are designed to add a ‘sense of cosiness and warmth’.

    ‘Even though we are diminishing the limits of contact, between nature and inside the structure, the artificial and the natural, we also had the intention of having a very artificial environment that is somehow quite alien,’ says Dosis co-founder Ignacio Peydro. ‘It’s not a space that you can find everywhere.’
    Second Home originally commissioned the dome for business and technology event Founders Forum 2016, but plans to reinflate it in London Fields on 1 October. A day-long programme of community events, including film screenings, animation and design workshops and a wellness programme will be open to local children and families.
    Adds Second Home co-founder Sam Aldenton: ‘There’s an ephemerality that comes with something inflatable, in the sense that what goes up must come down. Architecture has the opportunity to be experimental, and when you’re not working with a fixed building you can push the boundaries that little bit further.’

    After its stint in London Fields, Second Home plans to tour the structure around various locations in London.
    It’s not the only architectural pop-up the company owns. Second Home previously bought the brightly coloured 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Selgascano, which it plans to turn into a community art space in LA.
    Read next: Selgascano designs the ‘no-phone’ Libreria bookstore in London for Second Home More

  • in

    Selgascano designs the ‘no-phone’ Libreria bookstore in London for Second Home

    A new east London bookstore designed by Selgascano is looking to beat the age of Kindle by banning mobile phones and tablets.
    Libreria – the latest venture by Rohan Silva and Sam Aldenton, founders of co-working space Second Home – draws inspiration from Argentinian author Jorge Luis Borges’ ‘The Library of Babel’, a short story that imagines the universe as a library.
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Selgascano wanted to recapture the tale’s fantastical world by installing irregular-shaped, floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, made seemingly endless thanks to mirrored ceilings.
    ‘Libreria has been years in the making – we believe in the value of books and literature and have wanted to do this for a long time,’ said Silva. ‘Across industries we are seeing a return to physical, material things and a fresh appreciation of craftsmanship. These things are not being killed by the digital; they are being given new life.’
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    The bookshelves have been hand-built by students from the Slade School of Fine Art using recycled wood. Artist Dr Cato created bespoke lamps for the project while Selgascano cherry-picked a selection of mismatching chairs.
    Conceived as an analogue sanctuary, Libreria has a printing press to publish limited editions of titles and bring authors on board to curate some of its book selections. The store will also put on a programme of seminars and performances in conjunction with Second Home, just next door on Hanbury Street.
    Photography: Iwan Baan
    Libreria’s director Sally Davies told Dezeen: ‘We’ve reached a cultural tipping point, I think, where people are becoming aware of the costs of being constantly digitally connected – and instead crave experiences that are tangible, human, immersive.’
    Selgascano, who designed last year’s Serpentine Pavilion, also worked with Second Home on its Hanbury Street co-working space. More

  • in

    Second Home to open a Lisbon outpost

    Co-working brand Second Home will make its first foray abroad this May when it opens an outpost in Lisbon.
    News of the expansion – announced by founder Rohan Silva at the Digital-Life-Design conference in Munich – comes as the Portuguese capital gets set to host its first Web Summit, an annual tech event in the autumn that draws more than 50,000 people.
    ‘Right now Lisbon feels like east London just before the tech cluster exploded,’ Silva told TechCrunch.

    ‘It’s a super-creative city, but there are not enough places for creative people to come together. At the same time, big companies are shrinking, more people are becoming entrepreneurs and the built environment of cities needs to evolve to keep pace with this.’
    Lisbon’s Second Home will feature a meandering 100m-long table that spans the width of the space as well as private meeting rooms, event halls and a late-night bar.
    The co-working company, which has just raised £7.5 million in funding, is also planning to open a Los Angeles base next year. More

  • in

    Second Home is buying the 2015 Serpentine Pavilion

    Co-working pioneer Second Home is set to snap up this year’s Serpentine Pavilion, designed by Spanish practice Selgascano.
    Rohan Silva – Second Home’s co-founder and a former government technology advisor – told Business Insider UK that he is paying a six-figure sum for the candy-coloured pavilion, which opened in Hyde Park this week.
    The co-working group – whose Shoreditch space is also designed by Selgascano – revealed what it has in store for its acquisition. ‘We’re taking it to LA next year, and hosting a brilliant new programme of visual arts and live performances,’ it said via its Instagram.

    Silva will work with LA-based arts advocate Bettina Korek to put on cultural events inside the venue.
    ‘We really hope this will make cities more liveable and creative,’ Silva told Business Insider UK. ‘The idea over the years is to take it to other cities as well.’
    The 2015 Serpentine Pavilion, open to the public until mid-October, will be shipped to LA in 2016.
    Selgascano’s design is not the only pavilion to get a second home. Last year’s edition, designed by Smiljan Radic, is now a fixture at Hauser & Wirth’s Somerset gallery, while the 2012 pavilion by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei has taken up residence in Surrey’s Alderbrook Park. Some have travelled to sunnier climes, including Toyo Ito’s 2002 creation, which now sits in the grounds of a beachside hotel in Nice, France. More