For Second Home, a co-working space located on Lisbon’s coast, instead of taking a human-centred design approach, SelgasCano started with the greenery. The Spanish architecture practice of José Selgas and Lucia Cano made sure that the plants and trees in the space – around 1,000 – outnumbered the number of possible humans with the membership capacity of the space capped at 250.

The 1100-sq-m creative workspace provider to start-ups, ad agencies and media companies like VICE Portugal is located in one of Lisbon’s oldest food markets, Mercado da Ribeira, built in 1892. Respecting the original structure of the marketplace by maintaining the beams and trusses, SelgasCano used plants instead of walls to create natural privacy and divisions between teams.

The plants have the added benefits of improving air quality, reducing background noise and increasing the happiness and productivity of office workers. Claiming to be one of the greenest buildings in Europe, Second Home uses a radiant heating and cooling system instead of air conditioning.

SelgasCano and Second Home see the demarcation between work and life being demolished by the freelance and remote-working lifestyles, and the space reflects it. The long, winding communal tables and bespoke mismatched chairs and lights are domestic in scale, and the typical trappings of office life – harsh LED lighting, frigid air conditioning systems and un-openable windows – are noticeably absent, literally making members feel at home.

Taking cues from the hustle and bustle of the market below, elements of SelgasCano’s design spark serendipitous, creative collisions between members. The lending library, a series of meeting rooms, a café and bar, and a wellbeing area provide ample space to be social, featuring a dark violet ceiling and primary accent colours in contrast to the vibrant green plant life and yellow beams that inject life and colour into the larger communal workspace.

In more and more retail and workspace interiors, we see a move towards sparking serendipitous connections between people and a growing sense of ‘curating’ the feel of a space, right down to the people or businesses that populate it. Second Home is no exception.

'We wanted absolutely to maintain that inherited idea of one single open space, getting small companies to share a huge table divided in three, encouraging relationships,' explains Lucia Cano. 'The flowing design of the table gives members their own area of private space to focus on their work whilst keeping a sense of community.'

Location Mercado de Ribeira, Avenida 24 de Julho, 1200-479 Lisbon, Portugal

More projects by SelgasCano have been featured in Frame #114.