The concept of the shoebox office, in which large numbers of workers shared a small common space and facilities, is not a popular workplan in this day and age. In the second quarter of 2020, office leases in LA County descended to rank at 60% to 70% below normal. And coworking spaces are becoming more and more scarce.
But Second Home, a London-based coworking firm opening a second office in Los Angeles this month, has given new life to the office.
Second Home finds its own home in a converted community center where most workspaces are located in 60 individual studios in a garden that used to be a parking lot.
Each studio is ventilated with opening windows, and the overall design plan is alfresco. The studio does not come complete with shared elevators or sealed hallways.
The studios liken toadstools in appearance, with both the buildings and its furniture bearing yellow tones. Lighting comes courtesy of pendant lamps that liken cocoons.
Second Home is a team effort that crosses the ages. The Modernist main building was designed by Los Angeles architect Paul R. Williams in 1963 as the onetime home office of the Assistance League of California. The renovation project, finished in 2019, were conceptualised by Selgascano, a Madrid company known for vibrant and sustainable building.
The company, started by José Selgas and Lucía Cano, in 2015, was the inaugural Spanish architecture studio to build a pavilion for the Serpentine Galleries in London. For that project, the architects constructed a rainbow-coloured building that was installed last year at the La Brea Tar Pits.
Selgascano has designed the Second Home workplaces, which encompass four London coworking complexes in London and one based in Lisbon — this particular office a system of biomorphic desks and greenery inserted into the structure of a 19th century market. The same architects also designed the interior for Librería, a bookstore operated by Second Home in London.
For Second Home’s Hollywood office, the design is trendy and sustainable–featuring light wells and open breezeways. Natural surroundings were paramount in the design, as was the preservation of a classic building and its original features, including a curved staircase and well-proportioned, highly functional spaces.
Selgascano at Second Home also preserves many of the materials and designs involved in the structure’s initial conception. The industrial tubing found there is arranged in a geometric pattern along the wall and ceiling in a way that likens layers of wood. The goal was a comfortable but creative workspace.
Taking the form of a drop-in workplace, its interior marked by plastic butcher curtains and drainage pipes lining the ceiling. The interior space is closed due to COVID-19 rules. The office’s open-air courtyard evolved into a work and meeting place. Open-air breezeways and pod-like garden studios also line the property, flanked by shading plants. And tables and desks are made of Corian, a nonporous composite material employed in hospital design.
The openness of the Second Home garden studio concept has kept a roster of 100 clients that feature entertainment, technical and building companies, nonprofit agencies and other collaborators.
Although these structures differ greatly, each is based on an encompassing design of health, nature, wellness, and ultimate sustainability.