UNION — Everyone has a place they go to relax, unwind, and have fun outside of home. Where do you go to find yours? Perhaps a park, a museum or a church? No matter what place you choose, it probably falls into the category of something called ‘3rd spaces,’ but what is a 3rd space?
In design, there are three types of spaces that are more often being discussed and thoughtfully designed into communities: 1st, 2nd, and 3rd spaces.
• 1st spaces are where you live — often in a house or apartment — that you own and occupy when not at work.
• 2nd spaces are where you work, be it your office, classroom, or other working space.
• 3rd spaces are neither of the first two spaces, not any combination of them either, but are so much more.
These spaces aren’t one particular type of place per say; they could be coffee shops, public parks and plazas, or a downtown street. All that is required of these spaces is to be inhabitable without having to make a purchase, complete a task, or fit a certain category.
So, now that you know what 3rd spaces are, what do they do exactly?
3rd spaces provide people with a public place to explore, learn, or simply exist in a social setting that is outside the realm of home and work. As you might already know, you can’t always get enough social interaction at home and you can’t often relax and goof off at work! Because of this, the most common uses of 3rd spaces are highly social and creative activities like discussing various topics with your longtime friends, brainstorming your next big idea, playing a game, and people watching.
Overall, 3rd spaces open up opportunities to interact with new people and share thoughts and ideas, which can lead to town unity and development. As I’ve come to discover, Union is one such place that needs development. Union’s community is quite strong — everybody knows everybody else by name — but it could be improved.
There is one place in Union that is already on it’s way to becoming a successful third place: The Piedmont Physic Garden. Right now, visiting the garden requires an appointment or attending a paid event, but in the future the garden hopes to open its doors to the public for free. Its hours would be similar to the downtown museum and someone would always be on staff in the garden to help and answer questions.
Picture yourself sitting in a lush botanical paradise, reading a nice book in the shade; Visiting our medicinal plant beds to learn about what plants can benefit your health; Joining your neighbors and friends in growing vegetables in the community garden; and lounging on our new amphitheater listening to live music.
While the Piedmont Physic Garden would still take appointments for large tour groups, and require purchase for some events and any grown plants from our greenhouse, the PPG has the potential to become a wonderful third space for the community.
For more information on PPG and our plans for the future, please call 843-427-2556 or visit us online at www.piedmontphysicgarden.org.
Brianne Clark is an intern at the Piedmont Physic Garden and a rising 5th year Landscape Architecture student at Virginia Tech.