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The third place and its importance for cities

Author Ray Oldenburg published in 1989 the book The Great Good Place, which took a look at occasional meeting places and their importance to cities.

In September 2015, I received a PDF from Robson, a great friend and oracle of the best references. I kept this file in a folder because I would know, intuitively, that it would be useful to me one day.

In 2020, after months of physical distancing and already working on the project that would be the embryo of Juicyhub, I was "lucky" to come across this file on my HD. The PDF brought some thoughts from Bruce Mau on the importance of waiting rooms, taxi rides and random encounters in cafes and bars, fueling the thesis that real growth happens outside of where we planned for it to happen.


"Real growth often happens outside of where we intend it to, in the interstitial spaces".He wrote.


This same text referenced the story of Hans Ulrich Obrist, curator and art historian, who once carried out an unusual project. Below, Hans himself explains the history of the Mind Revolution event, which took place in Munich in 1995

“You cannot engineer human relationships. You can define the conditions under which things happen. For this reason, we decided, a few hours before the scheduled date of the event, to cancel the conference and just do a "no conference". It had all the makings of a conference - badges, t-shirts, bags with the resumes of all the speakers, a hotel where all the people would stay, a bus to pick them up in the morning and take them to the science center, people at the airport picking up the guests, all the logistics - but the plastered conference was gone.  This came from the observation that obviously at a conference the most important things happen during the coffee break. Why do the rest? We will only take coffee breaks.”

Hans Ulrich Obrist

I was curious about this story and found the author who may have organized these ideas before Bruce and Hans: o Ray Oldenburg, who inspired me with his theory of "third places", or "interstitial spaces", written by him in 1989.

As there is not much in Portuguese on the subject - and the idea is too good not to be shared - I subtitled this video, where Ray himself talks about it.

Video credit: The University of West Florida

If you watched the video until the end, you must have been impressed as I was, remembering that itwas recorded many years before the COVID-19 pandemic, when we had not yet experienced the impact of having spent weeks and weeks without face-to-face interaction with many people we liked.

Ray draws attention by touching on the depth of the relationship between the city and the communities that are fed by the "third places". Countries such as Italy and France are two examples cited by him, since during the 17th century, cafes flourished in Europe, while the French Revolution was being planned. People drank coffee and fed on ideas, books, poems and debates.

You can't think about the present day without mentioning Starbucks, a brand that for many years made every possible effort to position itself in the consumer's mind as "the third space", where a simple espresso frees up a good Wi-Fi signal and comfortable armchairs for a few hours.

What is your third place?

I asked myself this question in 2020. In addition to the work environment, I tried to figure out which place I missed the most after months of experiencing physical distancing. I confess that I managed to list several places in São Paulo and even in other countries. In Santos, I had great difficulty going beyond the obvious answer: the beach.

One of my favorite definitions of "third place" is that it is thecommunity living room. Third places can be cafes, beauty salons, gyms, bookstores, post offices, boulevard-style streets, bars, breweries, parks, community centers and even some shops - accessible places where people gather and conversation takes place.

They are spaces where you can do things at our own pace. Where we feel very welcome, meeting acquaintances - but also strangers, which offers new possibilities.


Third place should be moving but not chaotic.

And above all, having frequency as a key element.

In 1989, visionary Ray wrote in his book: "Entrepreneurs across the country are taking inspiration from the book The Great Good Placeto open or rethink “third place” companies and businesses".


And in the pages of the book, he cites some examples of how these places are helping to change the landscape of cities and the lives of their inhabitants.

Our mission here has everything to do with this: to integrate entrepreneurial and transformative people from Baixada Santista, making the participating Juicyhub community an essential vector for the sustainable economic development of our region.

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