Second Home is in the Spitalfields area of the East End, London, next to the still slightly alternative Brick Lane market. It is a co-working space concept for 30-odd startup companies with a similar degree of alternativeness, all small-scale like the district, and closely linked to technology. The studios have many rental possibilities, all highly elastic in time. The vary from a single workspace in a large common area designed for a maximum of 75 people to studios for 5,7 or 10 workers or a larger studio that can hold up to 20.
The most important aspect of the programme is the common zones, open to any user of the complex. There are seven meeting rooms, various rest areas for reading or chatting, a large cafeteria/bar with free coffee and midday meals for £5, and a large mixed work-events zone where the large work table can be raised to leave space free for any type of activity, from morning yoga and pilates sessions to evening concerts, parties, dinners, conferences, films etc.
The intrinsic concept of Second Home involved the unavoidable – and ultimately fully accomplished – need to fill every corner and every area with small workspaces bathed in light, and of course the need to ensure access to each of these different areas distributed around the edges, the need to not waste anything, to nor have any corner that is not used for something, to not have any angle where someone can’t sit and work, talk or relax. This maximised economy, in its broadest, original sense, is something that always leaves us very relaxed and satisfied with a duty accomplished, although on the other hand, the high density brought on by this complete occupancy and the usage of spaces to the limit is one of our biggest doubts about how it will really work in the future, with so many people working together in such an intense space.
We have therefore tried to limit the potential chaos, maze that might give rise to a complex situation, with two tricks: firstly, with constant visual and physical fluidity throughout the space, which will prevent users from feeling lost or locked into any particular place, and secondly, with total control over the acoustics, with the help of absorbent carpets and ceilings and also a continuous curved shape that scatters the sound in every direction. The use of this continuity as an antidote to density also achieves side reactions that increase the strength of the entire space, turn it into a single, united whole and make it seem larger and more endless that it really is.
That is precisely our doubt right now: is that what it will really end up being? Will it really be a space where transparency and reflections end up simplifying/ complexifying it to the point where they manage to open up the space and make it infinite but friendly at the same time? And, most importantly, will it ultimately generate a space in which the architecture dissolves into a homely atmosphere, in order to achieve just that…which is exactly what the client commissioned us to do at the start: and office like a house? Orwasit a house likean office?