Reading matter: Second Home's bookshop, Libreria, opens its doors

The facade of the Libreria bookshop in Londres
The Libreria bookstore in East London is the latest project in the British capital by Second Home, designed by Spanish architects Selgascano
(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

Following up on their acclaimed work for one of London's key creative work spaces, Second Home, architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano of Selgascano have just unveiled their newest collaboration with the company's founders, Rohan Silva and Sam Aldenton; Libreria is the capital's latest heaven for book-lovers. 

Sitting opposite the Second Home premises, East London's 'space for entrepreneurs and creative businesses', this new book shop, printing press and multimedia space on 65 Hanbury Street is a celebration of reading. The space explores new ways of presenting and displaying books – there's even a record player and whisky bar on site. 'We wanted to maximise the sense of discovery, via general themes, such as Mother, Madonnas And Whores,' explains director Sally Davies.

Setting up a bookshop is not about nostalgia, Silva assures us. '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,' he says. '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.'

The design concept was just as well thought out, using literary references and clever materials. The architecture 'draws inspiration from Jorge Borges' short story The Library of Babel', explain the architects. Showcasing the Spanish architecture practice's signature use of colour and raw materials, such as wood normally used for board formed concrete and a stretch plastic ceiling, the space is a composition of carefully curated shelves. Custom made lamps are created by artist Dr Cato. 

Presented as a 're-imagining' of the traditional bookshop – and more – Libreria will offer a cosmopolitan atmosphere, as well as a quiet sanctuary for all visitors. This will also be a counterpoint to Second Home's techie side, as it will be, Silva explains, 'a technology free bookshop'. 

Libreria will open its doors to the public this week and plans to offer a wide ranging program of events, some shared with its neighbouring Second Home base.

The interior of Libreria bookshop in London

The interior is a clever and careful configuration of shelves, wrapping around the walls, creating interesting book display areas, as well as seating space, a record player shelf and whisky bar

(Image credit: Iwan Baan)

Inside of Libreria London Bookstore

The architects drew inspiration from Jorge Borges' short story The Library of Babel, for their design

(Image credit: TBC)

Looking into the bookstore through the exterior window

Libreria will open its doors to the public this week, also offering a program of public events

(Image credit: TBC)


For more information visit the Selgascano website

Photography: Iwan Baan

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).