Second Home London Fields promises a balanced, modern and child-friendly workspace
For the founders of what aims to be one of the ‘most creative communities for entrepreneurs and innovators’, Second Home, finding the right way to combine work and family life is imperative. So when they decided to find the right space for their fourth London venue, getting the right elements and collaborators in place to address this balance was just as important as finding the right design and location for it. And so, Second Home London Fields was born – the first property for the forward-thinking, co-working space to incorporate a nursery on site.
‘Why start a nursery here?’, asks co-CEO and co-founder Rohan Silva. ‘One of he big impediments for creativity, and in particular women, is access to childcare. The numbers are frightening. So what we are trying to do is show how the building environment might better support working parents.’
The company called upon one of the capital’s most progressive childcare providers, N Family Club, to work together on the enterprise’s first ever nursery location – designed by emerging London architecture practice Kennedy Woods. Their approach features clean, bright spaces, which feel contemporary and Nordic-inspired, but are also full of bespoke fun corners and carefully chosen toys, with a focus on natural materials and carefree, safe play.
The nursery is incrporated into a building adapted and designed into a Second Home workspace by Madrid based architects Cano Lasso, and has places for Second Home members but also the wider public.
Naturally, flexible deskspace and offices are the biggest part of the scheme. The workspace is created within a repurposed existing building, where now interiors are imbued with Second Home’s signature style and ethos; featuring bright, pleasant colours, biophylic design and lots of light. In fact, bringing natural light deep into the large original structure’s floorplates led a lot of the design decisions, such as the transluscent facade (made of ETFE, a stretched, woven fabric); the numerous skylights which cut through the heart of the building and all floors; and the differences in ceiling heights, which compress and expand the interior spaces and overall feel as needed.
The ground level hosts open, ‘roaming’ spaces, free for the wider public to use. ‘The cafe and meeting rooms are open to the public. We believe in diversity and meeting of different people,’ explains Silva. One floor up are flexible co-working desks and booths (for private meetings and phone calls) for members and further up are larger office units; responding to various levels of use and users’ needs. An open air playground sits at the top, with a view to add a space that accomodates adults too in the not-too-distant future.
What remains consistent throughout though, is a sense of fun in the design, which uses fairly simple and commonly found materials, from metal rods, to cork panels and coloured, plastic sheets to create an environment with a strong personality. Inspiration came from German architect and engineer Frei Otto and ‘bubbles’, explain the architects.
A connection with nature and sustainability were also an important concern, when it came to the design choices. Plants, carefully placed in various spots in all floors, ensure that a green element is never too far away. Materials are selected to be as efficient as possible. Meanwhile the company’s choice to use an existing structure also goes to strengthen Second Home’s commitment to what is best for the environment; making this space a truly interesting balance, between privacy and communality, office and family life, old and new, work and fun. §