an excerpt from

London

         /

 Lisbon

a tale of two co-working cities

an excerpt from

London

         /

 Lisbon

a tale of two co-working cities

words Soraia Martins
photos Matilde Travassos

When it comes to co-working spaces, London and Lisbon are quite the dynamic duo — with not one but two thriving British-Portuguese collaborative ventures, each with their own distinct twist. Second Home’s signature look is bright and airy, teeming with potted plants and modern architectural curves. Its London branches are nestled in diverse pockets of the city’s urban fabric, whilst its Lisbon counterpart overlooks the Tagus River. Village Underground presents an edgy and industrial vibe; its members work out of recycled double-decker buses (in Lisbon), tube carriages (in London), and shipping containers (in both). Together, they highlight the entrepreneurial and creative dynamism common to both cities. Making the most out of this co-working golden age in Portugal’s capital are Lucy Crook, general manager at Second Home Lisboa, and Mariana Duarte Silva, co-founder of Village Underground Lisboa, with whom I sat down for a chat amidst Second Home’s greenery-filled décor and buzzing atmosphere.

For Mariana and Lucy, the most rewarding aspect of running a workspace business is the opportunity to connect people from different fields and walks of life. Lucy describes her work as the curation of a diverse community at Second Home: “We’re not just for tech companies. We have everyone here, from a chef to someone who works in choreography to fashion designers to Mercedes or Monocle magazine — there are all sorts of different people and that’s why there’s a richness in bringing everybody together.” Through events and classes, from bar meetups to riverside runs, Second Home aims to generate moments of connection. “The more people you can bring together and stir the pot, the more exciting the collaborations.” Mariana’s work similarly revolves around fostering a sense of community at Village Underground as a creative hub and event space. This means that there is never a typical day of work: one day she’ll be throwing a reggae party, another a BMW event, and the next weekend it could be an underground techno rave or a children’s activity fair. “It’s not an easy ride, but an amazing one,” she says, as she thinks back to how it all began.

Mariana was an early convert to the power of co-working, as well as the potential of Lisbon to be at its cutting edge. Back in 2007, working in London’s Shoreditch neighbourhood, she would regularly pass by the unusual sight of two tube carriages perched atop a warehouse-like building. When she quit her job in order to start her own music management business, and embarked on a bewildering search for office space in one of the world’s most expensive cities, Mariana learned that the mysterious train carriages were in fact a co-working startup, conceived by founder Tom Foxcroft, intended for people in her exact situation. Before she knew it, Mariana and her business had been based in Village Underground for nearly two years. “It was the first time I was dedicating myself to what I really wanted to do,” she recalls, after having worked through a management degree and 9-to-5 desk jobs in both Lisbon and London. “So it was a dream come true that I could have my desk and my computer to produce my parties.” In addition to physical office space, Mariana found herself enmeshed in a community she’d never known she needed, working alongside individuals from various fields and disciplines, from street art to video to advertising. This became the catalyst for moving back to her native Portugal — after all, she thought, why not bring something like this to Lisbon?

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Recession was still a reality in 2009; yet Mariana was convinced that Portugal was at a critical turning-point, and that it was a good time for experimentation. Together, she and Tom Foxcroft pushed through with their sister plan for a Village Underground in Lisbon. When she first approached CARRIS —Lisbon’s municipal tramway and bus authority — “I didn’t even mention the idea of a co-working space,” Mariana recalls. “I do not think there was even a word for it in Portuguese. … I printed out some cool photos of Village Underground London, and I just took them to the meeting, and the minute I showed them the photos and told them I wanted to do that exact thing in Lisbon, they said yes.” Four years into this project, Mariana has cemented her role as one of the individuals helping to re-invent Lisbon as a welcoming hub for entrepreneurs and creatives to live and work in. “We’ve needed this for a long time,” she says.


Find the rest of this article in Issue One

Recession was still a reality in 2009; yet Mariana was convinced that Portugal was at a critical turning-point, and that it was a good time for experimentation. Together, she and Tom Foxcroft pushed through with their sister plan for a Village Underground in Lisbon. When she first approached CARRIS —Lisbon’s municipal tramway and bus authority — “I didn’t even mention the idea of a co-working space,” Mariana recalls. “I do not think there was even a word for it in Portuguese. … I printed out some cool photos of Village Underground London, and I just took them to the meeting, and the minute I showed them the photos and told them I wanted to do that exact thing in Lisbon, they said yes.” Four years into this project, Mariana has cemented her role as one of the individuals helping to re-invent Lisbon as a welcoming hub for entrepreneurs and creatives to live and work in. “We’ve needed this for a long time,” she says.


Find the rest of this article in Issue One

© 2018 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Foreign Policy Design Group

© 2018 Perfect Strangers LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Website by Foreign Policy Design Group

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