Rethinking Third Places
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Rethinking Third Places

Informal Public Spaces and Community Building

Edited by Joanne Dolley and Caryl Bosman

Ray Oldenburg’s concept of third place is re-visited in this book through contemporary approaches and new examples of third places. Third place is not your home (first place), not your work (second place), but those informal public places in which we interact with the people. Readers will come to understand the importance of third places and how they can be incorporated into urban design to offer places of interaction – promoting togetherness in an urbanised world of mobility and rapid change.
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Chapter 5: Planning for third places through evidence-based urban development

Elizelle Juaneé Cilliers


The problems associated with increasing urbanisation and the changing functions of cities have been well documented in recent literature, emphasising the decline of the quality and quantity of public spaces. A broad theoretical base for understanding the importance of such spaces in modern societies calls upon planners and authorities to rethink the place, value and function of these spaces within modern environments. Revisiting the Oldenburg’s ‘third place’ concept might contribute in this regard, aiming to plan and create neutral places which provide opportunities for people to meet and interact and to develop a sense of belonging to a place. While the benefits of public spaces have been much theorised, relatively few studies demonstrate models for planning and facilitating third places as part of broader spatial planning approaches. Through theory-based sampling of place-making approaches, green planning approaches and lively planning approaches, this research employs a qualitative enquiry to identify design elements to support the planning of third places. It further employs evidence-based research to identify best practices relating to the identified design elements, in order to guide the planning of third places, and to reclaim public space for public use.

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