Principal // EDSA
Designer // Ivy Wong
Third places offer a forum for social interaction, recreation, entertainment, culture, relaxation and community building. Sometimes, third places are businesses but it is not the dollars and sense of commerce that ties these spaces to the people they serve. Rather, it is the inherent ability of them to bring people together that makes them meaningful.
As social beings by nature it was only a matter of time before people began developing their own, unconventional third places during this time of Covid and social distancing. Driveways transformed into outdoor gyms. Normally quiet neighborhood parks have become outdoor gathering places for the community. People have shown a strong willingness to adapt and be creative in the pursuit of safe interactions, which has perhaps illuminated a blueprint for the future.
Landscape architects have been challenged to redesign the idea of third places and their relation to the public realm. Our industry has always valued fresh air, sunshine and a connection to nature, but now that thinking is accompanied by a greater urgency to understand community tendencies and how they shift in response to social change.
Reconfiguring third places for the future must also emphasize multi-purpose design and bridge the gap between man-made and natural systems. Streets and parking garages will continue to be shut down and utilized for outdoor dining and open-air workspaces. Sidewalks and courtyards, once viewed as places of transition, will become outdoor shopping bazaars lined with vendors and retailers. Public spaces, originally designed to promote democracy and the expression of human rights, have been overexposed in recent years – losing sight of their intended purposes. Through the rise of social justice movements over the last year, public spaces are revisiting their historic roots with a heavy emphasis on inclusion as an essential for economic and community building.Ultimately, the lines between live, work and play will continue to blur, allowing for purposeful design that embraces adaptive reuse, allows for safe social engagement and limits uncertainty for the end-user. As landscape architects these spaces will profoundly evolve the realm we work, live and play in.