SelgasCano creates an urban jungle inside Second Home’s new Lisbon outpost

Potted plants with chairs
Second Home's new Lisbon outpost is adorned with more than a thousand plants and trees
(Image credit: SelgasCano)

Wallpaper’s Best City for 2017, Lisbon is a gift that keeps on giving. Celebrations for Amanda Levete’s MAAT museum have barely cooled off, yet the city has already launched another cultural destination to send tongues wagging: Second Home.

The co-working concept already existed in East London before this new incarnation was opened in a refurbished market hall. But like our W* Design Award judges, founders Sam Aldenton and Rohan Silva obviously saw huge potential in the coastal capital's disused spaces. ‘I was standing right behind this building one late night with a drink in my hand on the street and thought, "You can't do this in London anymore,"' says Silva from the brightly hued space on the first floor of Mercado da Ribeira.

The space is imbued

(Image credit: SelgasCano)

The space is imbued with SelgasCano’s colourful aesthetic

They brought in long-time collaborators SelgasCano to modernise the interior while maintaining the building’s original 19th-century architectural features. Architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano, responsible for Second Home’s workspace in London Spitalfieds and its bookshop Libreria, which opened in London last year, commuted from their Madrid studio, only a hop, skip and six-hour drive away.

In Lisbon, SelgasCano pay homage to the Portuguese countryside, infusing its colourful style into an urban jungle of more than a thousand plants. ‘The plants are architectural dividers,’ Aldenton explains. ‘The plants are the walls, sound barriers and for the creative psychological environment. They clean the air and take away dust.’

The creative psychological environment

(Image credit: SelgasCano)

Over 1,000 plants divide the workspace

The walls and ceiling of the foyer are coated in a good dose of Yves Klein blue, while inside the workspaces midcentury chairs are mismatched. The designers brought in locally sourced vintage lighting and created bespoke jigsaw tables on casters to enhance the homely feel of the place. ‘The character comes from the large, open space and in the nice column-shaped iron windows,’ says Cano ‘We tried to preserve them all.’ The space can also boast being one of the greenest in Europe, with low-energy LED lighting and advanced radiant heating and cooling systems.

When asked why the pair chose to launch in Lisbon, Aldenton told Wallpaper*, ‘We saw opportunity to support a creative ecosystem because the cost of living is still lower here.’ He and Silva designed a cultural program that includes yoga and live music.

Still to come for Second Home are two more London spaces: one in Holland Park, plus a child-friendly space in London Fields. Aldenton and Silva hope to conquer LA in the future.

The co-working space with plants

The co-working space has jigsaw-style tables-on-wheels designed by architects SelgesCano

(Image credit: SelgasCano)

The walls and ceilings at the entrance

The walls and ceilings at the entrance are painted in Yves Klein blue

(Image credit: SelgasCano)

Glass meeting rooms overlook the busy food market

Glass meeting rooms overlook the busy food market outside that shares the building

(Image credit: SelgasCano)

Second Home Lisbon is housed

Second Home Lisbon is housed within the 19th-century Mercado da Ribeira building

(Image credit: SelgasCano)


For more information, visit the Second Home website and the SelgasCano website

Sujata Burman is a writer and editor based in London, specialising in design and culture. She was Digital Design Editor at Wallpaper* before moving to her current role of Head of Content at London Design Festival and London Design Biennale where she is expanding the content offering of the showcases. Over the past decade, Sujata has written for global design and culture publications, and has been a speaker, moderator and judge for institutions and brands including RIBA, D&AD, Design Museum and Design Miami/. In 2019, she co-authored her first book, An Opinionated Guide to London Architecture, published by Hoxton Mini Press, which was driven by her aim to make the fields of design and architecture accessible to wider audiences.