Around the world in 3rd places: #2

Blog 23 Mar 2023

Third places where you feel hugely welcome and at ease are indispensable for a healthy society. At includi, we not only love to develop inclusive 3RD4ALL, but are also frequent visitors ourselves. In this second part of our blog series, we share another three of our most beloved places with you. Which will you visit?

St. Kevins Arcade Auckland

Almost impossible to imagine nowadays: hanging out with friends without a smartphone. Ellie Blower, Interior Designer at includi, has fond memories of those teenage days when she could often be found at St. Kevins Arcade in Auckland, New Zealand. This destination is part of an old estate, once the grounds of large gardens and tennis courts. After demolition in 1920, a passage that connects the main road to a rear park remains.

Entrance of St. Kevins Arcade – Credits Icon Group

Ellie describes, “The arcade is home to a variety of small businesses with good coffee and homemade pastries, vintage shops, ever-changing art studios on its top level and three hidden, underground bars. My favorite areas are the open passage in the center with steep stairs leading to the park and the lovely interior hall illuminated by a glass ceiling. The hall always evolves, from pop-up bars to markets and monthly free meals for members of the local community.” 

St. Kevin Arcade’s hall always evolves, from pop-up bars to markets and monthly free meals for members of the local community.

Ellie Blower Ellie Blower Interior Designer at includi
St. Kevins Arcade underground bar – Credits Icon Group

Zollverein Coal Mine Ruhr Valley

The Ruhrgebiet (Ruhr Valley) is Germany’s former coal-producing region, famous for its numerous manufactured landscapes that have been transformed into third places. One of the highlights of this area is Zollverein Coal Mine a.k.a. Zeche Zollverein: a masterpiece of industrial architecture. Until 1986, this was the production site of over 200 million tons of coal. Today this industrial monument is a dynamic cultural location that attracts people from all over the world. It’s no coincidence that the includi team made an inspirational visit over here last year.

Our Visual Content Creator Marco Heyda explains, “It’s a rare place, an unprecedentedly colossal environment, yet every inch is infused with the touchable rawness of last century’s manufacturing industry. Being there is an experience in itself, not to mention the plentiful leisure activities, from exhibitions at the Red Dot Museum or the Ruhr Museum – with Germany’s longest free-standing escalator – to taking a dip in the pool.”

Presentation of the former coal mine workers – Credits Marco Heyda/includi
Industrial site of Zollverein coal mine – Credits Marco Heyda/includi

Open Hof Groningen

In the Dutch city of Groningen, Open Hof adds its own twist to the term third place. This shelter for the houseless and homeless welcomes those in need of a safe place.

Thijs Alberts, Interior Designer at includi, volunteered at Open Hof, “Here people who have nowhere else to go are welcome for a hot cup of coffee and a sandwich. This place touched me tremendously, especially when I learned more about the various degrees of homelessness; while some people may have a home, they may not like being there for all sorts of reasons and therefore wander around the city. What makes this place low-threshold is that the coffee is free and truly everyone is welcome, regardless of your past or current social status. The fellowship, of both guests and staff, is heartwarming. At Open Hof, people look out for each other and help where they can.”

Chess in Open Hof Groningen – Credits: Andries de la Lande Cremer
Open Hof Groningen – Credits: Andries de la Lande Cremer

Curious about more cherry-picked third places from the includi team? Check out part 1 of this series.