Although the railways and airlines very quickly turned to new technologies to optimise and simplify client pathways, in the hotel industry the relationship with digital tools is more ambivalent. Smart Hotels that put technology at the heart of every level of the concept inspire desire and mistrust in equal measure.
Cities are reinventing themselves through these new territories of services and encounters. Discover these third places and how they tend to transform tourism!
I have always designed spaces - partitions of time, where encounters between people from different backgrounds can occur, where various paradigms are expressed and that generate creativity, or stimulate conviviality.
Federating thematic, cultural and social “tribes” encouraging dialogue through a community of points of view or concerns. Third Places, as defined by Ray Oldenburg in 1989, imply the idea of exchange but also that of a tool, a collaborative process, a collective action for a spirit of cooperation rather than competition.
Are we not on the frontier between new even more audacious forms where culture, the art of celebrating, the contribution of new explorations all mix with conviviality and generate meaning, stimulation, and open up new horizons?
Creating a place is like tightrope walking
I have always felt that there is a risk that people who are convinced about their approach end up by proving what they were already sure of. This is just one step from thinking they are “always right”. Whilst this is the easiest thing in the world. Doubting yourself, taking risks, exploring and letting yourself get shaken up is a little less comfortable. As Nietzsche said, “It is not doubt but certainty that drives you mad”, and doubtlessly takes you to unexpected places.
Some excel with the intuition of bringing together the right people in the right place to create complicity and meshing. In this way they make a “third place” with a defined objective. At the same time, the extreme concentration of the occupants that I observe is generally focussed on a screen, with little interaction between them, has always intrigued or worried me! It is as if they were lacking an external element of disruption or amazement.
I always have this compunction to say to a group of gregarious people: come here, it will suit you, your ideas will be valued, and you can talk. Because ultimately, everybody needs a space where they can be themselves rather than part of a group. The complexity lies in finding the subtle blend of these two approaches.
This is where the differentiating factors come into play: art and creation, the invention of new ideas. The artist, the author, the elusive traveller and free thinkers are the friends of living spaces and the enemies of third places with a target activity that is too clearly defined. They contribute subjectivity, originality, differentiation and new perspectives.
Two fundamental parameters: one of which is physical, the space, the other is emotional, the people
They both make projects that should be encouraged, which are hybrid collective places where you feel good and sometimes shaken. A place is firstly a space, sometimes an architectural story, but always the story of an area, with its sociology and its environment. It is all about views, or points of view, that can be brought out, a staging, lighting, décor, and objects. Therefore, one or more scenarios. These elements are not just accessories as they create the place.
Then there are the people that occupy it: those who invent it, who bring it about because of their desire, their vision and their
initiative. Those who are from the region in question or whose love of the place fills them with an enthusiasm that is often contagious! It is essential to put the initiative at the heart of your concerns as it is vital to fulfilment. You cannot live without it.
Difficulties, but a breath of freedom
There are fundamental issues in the appearance of singular places that local authorities and private players must get past, but this is changing: according to the codes (economic, political, etc.) they need benchmarks and standalone templates. The risk then is to strip these places of any real innovative nature by mixing activities with business potential with added value in terms of culture, conviviality, innovation, solidarity, ideas and the independent contributors who can develop them with passion, expertise and commitment, for probable success. This mixture is fertile and “profitable”: stimulating through culture, economics, tourism, etc.
We can underline an appetite for places where thoughts are not dictated, where fun is not just “tolerated”, where social relations are not organised, where living together is finally possible. Have spaces for living, culture, celebration become spaces for experimentation for this desire for free and extraordinary towns. More collaborative, federating and regulating tools? Or a final gateway to new forms of contemporary explorations that bring magic back to the human adventure?
Whatever the answer, this is surely what we are aiming for.
France and Europe have always supported big projects focussed on others and freedom.Our living spaces aim to be the peak of our expertise in terms of hospitality that are unrivalled by those of our admirable neighbours.
Together they form some of the signs of our cohesion and constitute a collective intelligence about how to live together better.So many initiatives that are an inexhaustible source of inspiration, running the risk of becoming emotional and feeling good, and travelling to get there!
Renaud Barillet, Director of Bellevilloise