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How public spaces are becoming living rooms

Third place living as an urban lifestyle

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Urbanisation and the we culture needn’t stand in opposition. The city is becoming a personalised living room with shared meeting places.

Outside living

Third place living: when “outside” becomes a favourite place. (Photo: Sand Crain on Unsplash)

New life in the city: third place living

Coronavirus and global megatrends: it seems almost paradoxical that lockdown, of all things, was a catalyst for future topics such as mobility and urbanisation. Global developments such as mobile working, digital networking and the rediscovery of the urban living environment have accelerated in recent years in ways no-one could have foreseen, fundamentally changing everyday life in metropolitan areas.

Our private homes are still important as a place to retreat to and relax in, but our lives are increasingly becoming decentralised. The city – as the third place alongside our homes and workplaces – is becoming another individually configurable space in our lives, which is exactly what “third place living” means. We work on the move, use the city as a playing field, and pick out exactly those possibilities offered by the city that we want. Rather than having our own private libraries, we use public educational services, we celebrate outdoor living, and we use the city as our urban playground to meet our needs, which we outsource in a spatially conscious way.

The lower financial burden of a small home gives individuals greater freedom and mobility. In large cities such as New York, tenants are already opting to do without kitchens, and are actually saving money by eating out cheaply. People still have a small home as a place of retreat, but it is used more as a basecamp for expeditions into the urban jungle, which is full of possibilities.

Tiny house

A self-sufficient life in nature with low costs: tiny houses facilitate a forward-looking, modular way of life. (Photo: Thomas Werneken on Unsplash)

We culture, not isolation

A yearning for meeting places was very palpable during lockdown. While living trends such as cocooning did gain traction, weeks of isolation strengthened people’s desire for more contact and community in the long term. A new global megatrend thus emerged: the reclaiming of public spaces and a focus on we culture as a contrast to the isolation of the pandemic period.

This begins with the use of open spaces, from picnics in the park to the boom in the use of public table tennis facilities. New parklets mean new outdoor meeting places, and street furniture encourages connection. From this (initially) loose we culture of modern urbanisation, we see new communities, partnerships, neighbourhood sharing concepts and self-organised vertical villages emerging. We all benefit when everyone commits to sharing knowledge and resources, be that in the field of culture, cuisine or sport. Should this trend take hold globally, the era of the anonymous metropolis could well be over.

The freedoms of outdoor living

Life outdoors was already gaining in popularity even before the emergence of third place living as a trend. Gardens, balconies and terraces provide spaces for everyday life in the open air. Weatherproof furnishing, which bridges the boundary between indoor and outdoor furniture, plays an important part in this. Rainproof rugs, elegant upholstered furniture with robust covers, and fully equipped kitchens for outdoor living and dining are conquering the market as well as the outdoor areas of our houses and apartments.

The desire to be closer to nature is also leading to a surge in the numbers of people using public green spaces – be they city-centre parks or local recreation areas close to conurbations. Digitalisation is also playing a part in making these places everyday meeting points that are used in a variety of ways, bringing different people, opinions and cultures together.

Outodoor living in parks

Outdoor and third place living – we increasingly value freedom, and parks are becoming the perfect place to encounter different people and cultures, and to enjoy the fresh air. (Photo: Ben Duchac on Unsplash)

How third place living is shaping urban life

People want to be outside. Today, digitalisation and decentralised living networks are facilitating new ways of life that are more flexible and individual than ever before. Between to-go and we culture, interior design and street furniture, places of retreat and places to meet, the city becomes a service provider that fulfils individual wishes as required, and offers residents the greatest possible freedom.

Do you have products and ideas related to trend topics such as urban planning and future living? Then register here as an exhibitor at imm cologne Spring Edition 2023 .