The ‘first place’ is the home; the ‘second place’ is work.
So what is the ‘third place’?
In a new book on ‘third places’, Griffith University researchers highlight the important role they play in our society.
Third places are informal public places such as community gardens, dog parks, cafes, libraries and even events that are open to everyone. They help people feel part of their community and contribute to the overall social health of residents and urban areas.
The concept of third places was originally developed by Prof Ray Oldenburg, a US urban socialist, who, as an author of several books on the subject, identified third places as offering neutral public spaces where communities could connect and establish bonds.
The new book Rethinking Third Places: Informal Public Spaces and Community Building is co-edited by Associate Professor Caryl Bosman, Head of Griffith Architecture and Design, and Cities Research Institute PhD candidate Joanne Dolley.
A/Prof Bosman and Dolley will be promoting and discussing the book at the Australian and New Zealand Association of Planning Schools (ANZAP2019) Conference on July 4-5, Brisbane, within the theme of ‘The Role of Research and the Researcher in City-making’.
Among the chapters are:
- Planning for healthy ageing: How the use of third places contributes to the social health of older populations
- Eyes on the Street: The role of ‘Third Places’ in improving perceived neighbourhood safety
- Third places and social capital – Case study community gardens.
The latter chapter was penned by Dolley, who highlights the importance of third places within cities, and in particular the role community gardens can play in social cohesion and personal well being.
“It’s not uncommon for people to move house and jobs several times in their lifetime, so having third places as a reliable, accessible source for interaction that isn’t in the home or workplace is really important,” she said.
“Social media can play a role for third places, but it’s not regarded as a contemporary third place.
“When we use social media, we’re quite selective in who we connect with, and it’s usually with people who are more like ourselves. In a third place you interact with people you may not have purposely selected to interact with.
“But social media can help a third place blossom and grow, such as promoting a dog park group or a community garden.”
Dolley said that although cities such as Brisbane were reasonably well equipped with third places, more could be done to encourage more people to seek them out.
“One problem that Brisbane has is its heat; King George Square, for example, has dark tiles that can measure up to 55 degrees, which is not very conducive to third place interactions,” she said.