A ‘third space’ is the place to meet people and socialise – and this is why it is so important

14.01.2019
A simple Google search will quickly give you the definition of ‘third space’, but understanding why third spaces are important and ensuring that as a society we benefit from them can be more complicated. One thing is certain: collaboration is required in order to succeed.

A brief explanation of third space

Let’s begin at the beginning and look more closely at what the term actually encompasses. The function of a third space is nothing new and has been important for a long time. The only thing that has changed is that we now discuss this room, this meeting place or this refuge using the term ‘third space’. Any logical person will doubtless realise that if there is a third space, there must be at least two more – the first and the second. Unsurprisingly, the places where we live – our homes – are our first space. Although many people probably feel like they spend more time at work than at home, our place of work is our second space.

But us humans look for something beyond what we find at home or at work

But us humans look for something beyond what we find at home or at work. As a species we have always needed places where we feel safe, a sense of togetherness with an atmosphere that can only be created in a room through community. In modern society, this need is not exclusively covered at home or at work. We have to go out – whether it is to cafes, libraries or parks. These have become critical public spaces that are part of our lived experience where we can meet people and socialise.

People sitting inside a cafe at the Liljeholmstorget Galleria shopping center

Third spaces have a key role in developing urban landscapes

Everything used to be easier. Perhaps you’ve heard the expression before, and perhaps there’s an element of truth to it as well. There was a time when housing developers built houses, offices were built simply for people to work in, and retail was in its own box beyond all the rest of it.

Now everything is about mixed-use and multifunctional solutions where everything should ideally be seamless.

Now everything is about mixed-use and multifunctional solutions where everything should ideally be seamless. This means that in line with urbanisation and city planning, it has become important – perhaps more than ever – that landlords, developers, architects and the authorities work even closer to resolve how urban life, businesses and everyday life all together can create healthy, living urban landscapes.

From shopping centres to community hubs

In a world where consumer habits are changing, where the concept of the workplace is becoming ever more flexible, and where we live closer to each other than ever before, we need new solutions. These new solutions require a willingness to change and a capacity to do just that – to change or develop, as we like to call it at Citycon.

And this is exactly what we are doing when we are evolving from the one-dimensional shopping centre to the multifunctional community hub, where we are equally happy to include first, second, and third spaces as part of the solution. But it starts with understanding the role of the third space.

That’s why understanding the third space is important.

Terje Gulbrandsen

Communications Manager who is a true retail enthusiast, with more than 20 years of experience. With his passion for concept development and understanding consumer behaviour he thinks there’s always possibilities to be explored.