With Second Home Hollywood, founder Rohan Silva is recasting the definition and purpose of the modern-day workspace.
Welcome to the West Coast! What made you choose L.A. for the sixth Second Home location? After scouting San Francisco and New York—and coming from London, where everything is so buttoned up—I saw a joyfulness and freedom in Los Angeles that was intoxicating. Then we found this Paul Williams building with an empty parking lot next to it and fell in love. The building was in a terrible state but had incredible bones.
You worked with Madrid-based design team SelgasCano to transform the space, and now in addition to the original Paul Williams building there are 60 single-story garden studios spread across 90,000 square acres with more than 6,500 plants and trees. Did you consider pandemic-related safety when coming up with the plans? They are a really amazing practice because they think about how environment affects our physiology and our psychology. And what that boils down to for them is integrating nature into architecture, hence all the curves and plants and color and natural light. The Paul Williams building is fitted with hospital-grade filtration, but it’s not because we thought there might be a pandemic one day; it’s because the environment and the air you breathe affect your mood and your working day. That’s also why there are more than 6,000 plants and trees, because they help filter the air and increase the oxygen content all around you. Everything was done through that prism.
How does the membership work? Since COVID we’ve made membership very flexible. You can book a pod as a group for 12 months, or if you’re an individual you can work much more flexibly around the campus. You can also pay for the number of people coming into the office. It’s really about us acknowledging this moment and trying to make a safe, secure and healthy environment. As well, 20% of the community are nonprofits or social impact organizations that can use our meeting rooms free of charge.
How else is Second Home different from other clubs in the city? All of our events are open to everyone; you don’t have to be a member. This has been true since the day we opened in East London five years ago. Our cafe and bookshop is also open to the public during non-COVID times. In digging into the history of the building I found out it was designed as a civic space and community center. It’s really the opposite of snobby British upper-class thinking. The thing I love about L.A. is how open and welcoming it is. In truth, we were inspired by West Coast thinking, and that’s what we’re after and what we’re representing.
Photography by: Photos by: Sinziana Velicescu; Genaro Molina © 2020/COURTESY OF THE Los Angeles Times; Iwan Baan; Sinziana Velicescu