Staying connected with “third places”

Two men tending a raised garden bed in a community garden. One is tipping up a wheelbarrow and the other is scraping out the soil. Staying connected with third places.The notion of “third places” is about places in the public domain that encourage informal and casual social interaction. The “first place” is home, and the “second place” is where significant time is spent in a formal sense such as the workplace. Community gardens and town squares are an example of a “third” place. 

The Conversation has an interesting article about being lonely in the city. It brings into focus the idea of creating spaces with the human scale in mind. Loneliness is a growing concern and spoken of as the “new smoking”.  The article, Many people feel lonely in the city but perhaps third places can help with that also has links to relevant papers. 

The Compassionate City

A brick terrace house fronts the footpath and has lots of pot plants in front of it.The Dutch idea of the Woonerf has been picked up again, this time by Jenny Donovan of La Trobe University. Using some graphics, she shows how design can affect our decisions to either walk, drive, use public transport or not, and whether you feel welcome in the environment. She covers the key elements of a Compassionate City where various design elements can meet the needs of a range of people and create more harmonious behaviours. There are several links in the article to other related reports and articles. The article originates from The Conversation.  

Urban design and social responsiveness

A distance pic of a three column building in Singapore with trees and people in the foregroundIt’s one thing to be accessible, but what other features make a place socially responsive? According to a research paper from Singapore, top of the list is footpaths followed by seating for resting. Concerns over the mix of cyclists and pedestrians and good lighting also feature. The article outlines a method for assessing accessibility and useability of environments.  Apart from the method, the results support many other papers on this topic.

The title of the paper is, The Methodology for Evaluating Accessibility as a Tool for Increasing  Social Responsiveness or Urban Landscapes in Singapore. Several photos illustrate the text. 

From the abstract

Creating a more responsive urban environment enables social integration of people into active public life. This is especially the case for people limited physical abilities.

The author presents a research-based methodology for analysing and evaluating accessibility in public areas of a big city. The originality of the method lays in empowering the disabled persons to play the active role of experts in measuring and evaluating accessibility according the developed assessment tool.

The methodology enables evaluation of accessibility on different urban scales: urban landscapes, in buildings, and in their interiors. The case study performed in Singapore explores the quality of access that people have to public spaces, metro stations, hotels and café.

The paper presents recommendations for improving accessibility in the city by improving the architectural design of buildings. Updating building regulations is also required as well as the maintenances of open spaces and buildings.

The results of this research provide the comprehensive action plan for eliminating barriers in the specific Singapore’s environment and in the other cities. Conclusions present a coherent accessibility monitoring tool and improvement programme to create a socially responsive urban environment.


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