Have you ever wondered why despite all the technological advancements, there’s something inside of us that seeks to be with nature? With all the gadgets, devices, shows, and distractions, why do we still seek the outdoors?
When we’re so stressed out and exhausted, we play the sound of waves or rain. When we burn out, we go to the woods to disconnect. When we need to unwind, we stay by the beach or lake.
Apparently, this isn’t just some woodsy, hashtag PNW lifestyle trend we’ve just caught up with. Social Psychologist Erich Fromm used this term to describe a psychological orientation of being attracted to all that is alive and vital.
Biophilia and Design
Biophilia is a well-founded theory that suggests that all of us humans possess an innate tendency to seek connections with nature. It is being drawn to life and all things living.
So how does that connect with a coworking space in Lisbon, you ask?
In architecture and design, Biophilia takes a sustainable design strategy. Not to be confused with green architecture, as the goal of this design principle is to decrease the environmental impact of construction. What biophilic design does is address the need for humans to connect with the natural world by reconnecting people with the natural environment.
Second Home Lisbon
It all but takes one photo for you to understand why Second Home Lisbon is one of the most appropriate examples of biophilic design. The 1,200 potted plants and trees alone will have your jaw drop at this thriving coworking space.
Second Home is a successful coworking space primarily located in London. They have six locations, one in Lisbon, four in London, and the one right in our shores: Hollywood. The US site was crowned by Archdaily as the Best Office Building of the Year 2020.
The Los Angeles Second Home location is worthy of another feature. But both projects were headed by the Spanish powerhouse-duo architects José Selgas and Lucía Cano of the firm SelgasCano. The Lisbon site is notably the first project outside of London.
It is located in the historical landmark of Mercado da Ribeira, Lisbon’s oldest food market, which was built in 1882. Second Home is in the “L” shaped wing of the market at the top story under the roof of the building, and it occupies 12,000 sq. ft.
Respecting and understanding the history of Lisboa meant preserving the character and main elements of the building while adapting it for the new and modern workspace. With the original column-shaped iron windows and sturdy iron-cast trusses in the roof, the architects left an open-plan set up to show the beauty of the historic market hall.
One of the Greenest Buildings In Europe
Inspired by the way greenhouses maintain its temperature, SelgasCano devised a system using radiant heating and cooling. There is no need for air conditioning because the system induced cross air ventilation.
As Lucía Cano explains, “Another big aim was to reduce the energy consumption of the building. Working with one of the best climate engineers we ever worked with, Adam Ritchie, we were able to eliminate the air-conditioning system and create a radiant floor system with natural ventilation taken from the ones used in a conventional greenhouse.”
The Second Home roof automatically opens at night to allow cool air to come in. Then just right before sunrise, it closes to trap the cool air. Also, there is a network of pipes installed under the floors that run cold and hot water. These keep the space at the right temperature in varying seasons.
With the skylights running the whole length of the building, natural light comes pouring in during the daytime. Second Home Lisbon can comfortably claim the title as one of the greenest buildings in Europe because of these green and energy-saving initiatives.
One Thousand and More Plants
Inspired by the engineering and aesthetics of the greenhouse, the first thing you notice when you enter the open space are all the plants. It is plants upon plants, greenery on greenery! A sight to behold for every plant lover.
But actually, there is a large table measuring 70 meters by 10 meters sprawled through the shared workspace. The spirit of a coworking space is well and alive in this manner. Small companies share the table with curved cuts allowing for private areas so a member can focus on their work while keeping a sense of community.
With more than 250 available chairs, Second Home members can sit on one side of the table and another member on the other side. The only thing that is visually separating them is the line of beautifully potted indoor plants.
These plants are more than just decorative dividers for sharing workers. They are also scientifically proven to improve air quality and reduce the sound of background noise.
With all the natural light, lush and vibrant greenery, Second Home members no longer feel confined to a badly lit and poorly ventilated, claustrophobic-inducing working space.
A Wholistic Space To Thrive
“Two completely different spaces have been created in the given L shaped plan: the main working space where the long table sits, and the café lounge area. Both [are] designed to be distinct and even opposite spaces: one for people to work and another for people to relax, to talk, and to unwind. each space with a totally different ambiance and personality.” – Lucia Cano
For biophilic architecture to be present in a building or structure, it must possess the following elements: the naturalistic dimension, the basic structure of the place, and a geometric coherency. That means the physical space must be designed in a way that promotes the connection between the human dimension and the natural environment.
More than that, the biophilic space must also strengthen life and support the sociological and psychological elements of life. These elements are more than alive and thriving in Second Home.
Rohan Silva, co-founder of Second Home says, “We believe in the power of great architecture to improve people’s lives, whether that’s in London and Lisbon, or in some of the poorest parts of the world.”
The coworking space also has special welfare programs offered to job seekers and in-betweeners. Second Home has also funded the building of Kibera Hamlets, an orphanage and school in Nairobi.
The cafes and canteen in Second Home Lisbon serve organic food. There are well-being programs organized for its members. There is a dedicated area for yoga and Pilates classes. Cultural shows are hosted in the space to bring people together.
Biophilia is about natural connections. And that’s what you will find in Second Home Lisbon. Working in the midst of nature, openly communicating with creative and passionate people, and living your best life.