What Should You Know About Third Placemaking?


This story begins like any other, with an evil machine that has gained consciousness and seeks to destroy humanity as we know it. Only the machine isn’t a big, scary, Arnold-shaped android, but rather an algorithm that changes the way we make purchases. This tech isn’t inherently evil or dangerous, but it does give people the opportunity to avoid community gathering places. And it appears, if given the opportunity, people will avoid those places like the plague. Yes. The terminator is your favorite book retailer turned eCommerce Goliath, and the weapon of choice is frictionless automated shopping.

**For those late to the party, friction in this context means a point in your buyer’s journey that prevents customers from completing a transaction. Digitally, this can take the shape of frustrating credit-card forms, out of stock items, and even sometimes slow internet connections. It’s important to note, your business isn’t always responsible for creating friction, but a lost sale is a lost sale. Pointing fingers is a waste of time.

The more advanced predictive technology gets, the easier and more convenient shopping will become. Curb-side pick-up and one-click orders are already keeping people in their homes and cars, instead of experiencing and contributing to a community that historically happened in these ‘inconvenient shopping venues’. The growing apprehension with a convenience retail model is the sense of exploration becomes completely removed from purchasing. The fear is that recreational elements of shopping will completely disappear, and in-person experiences evaporate. That won’t happen. Using our concept of third placemaking, we’re creating spaces that demand community.

But what is Third Placemaking?

A combination of The Third Place and Placemaking.


The Third Place

This marketing theory suggest that you spend most of your time in one of three places: your home, your office, and your third place. The third place is a physical, psychological, or emotional space that helps to create and support a community. Usually, this manifests in a physical space, but it does not have to. If you spend most of your free time in an online chatroom dedicated to bird watching, that is your third place. They also take the form of churches, coffee shops, breweries, and any other place that is accessible, welcoming, comfortable, and gives you a sense of community and belonging.



Placemaking, on the other hand, is an architectural theory that isn’t ideological or spiritual at all. It is very much focused on the form and function of a place’s layout. A quality place will be safe, connected, welcoming, and allow for authentic experiences. The architecture and design of a space requires proper physical form, mix of land uses and functions, and social opportunity. Placemaking uses physical space to bring people together and manifest community in a much more literal sense.


Third placemaking is how they fit together, to create a physical space that empowers people to create a spiritual, emotional, and psychological connection.


Monetizing Third Placemaking

Most organizations want to bring people in and keep them there. The longer someone stays at a restaurant, store, or marketing activation, the more money they are likely to spend. Yes, our high-brow ideology is ultimately about helping businesses generate and maintain their revenue. Using intentional design, and third placemaking, we propose bringing community back to commerce. Keeping customers shopping longer, without realizing it, is the key to competing with the ‘easy’ or ‘convenient’ opponent. This revolution will require that developers and landlords change the way they think about their spaces. Don’t incorporate more parking lots, drive-through restaurants, or curb-side shopping. Make people get off their hineys and talk to one another. Use your physical space to foster a community and sense of belonging. Third Placemaking is the paradigm by which commerce and community become synonymous.