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Alumni Stories

The third place

The third place philosophy was coined by sociologist Ray Oldenburg in the 1980s, and describes the social surroundings where people spend time away from work or home.

Examples of a third place include churches, cafes, parks and libraries.

University of Canberra alumna Renee Douros is embracing the concept with her semi-permanent space in Braddon – Adytum.

The Adytum library is stocked with a curated collection of design, art, craft and architecture titles as well as a range of vegan wellness and self-care products. The space explores intellectual nourishment as a pathway to wellbeing.

“The Adytum library pays tribute to the repose and intellectual nourishment that one receives from the written word,” Renee says.

“It also doubles as an event and exhibition space that cultivates social experiences in the company of like-minded people.”

The next activation in the space will be a collaboration with UC’s Faculty of Arts and Design, entitled Material Subjects.

Renee says it’s an opportunity to reconnect with UC, where she studied a Bachelor of Public Relations and Bachelor of Interior Architecture.

“My time at UC formed some of the most memorable years of my early 20s. I made lifelong friends during my time there and had the privilege of being guided and educated by  incredible lecturers, who taught me some very valuable lessons,” Renee says.

“The degrees I studied afforded me a solid grounding that has informed and inspired the various businesses I have started over the years.”

And various they are. Renee’s business ventures include Hooray! Magazine, online florist The Floral Society, dessert delivery service The Sugar Deli, indoor plant business Planted, jewelry store Oh Hey! and event space The Social Club.

While many of her enterprises focus on an online business model, Adytum is very much intended to be experienced in the physical sense.

“Its motivation is to explore the inextricable connection between self-care and wellness via a range of physical and experiential manifestations.”

Many of Renee’s spaces (whether virtual or physical) encompass a specific personal design style. They’re sleek, modern, and welcoming.

Much of this is thanks to her incredible eye for detail, but she can’t help but reflect on her Interior Architecture studies at UC when developing and creating a theme.

“My studies in Interior Architecture equipped me with a solid understanding of design principles, theory, and history – which has also come into use when dealing with architects across my various projects,” says Renee.

The lessons learned at UC have remained relevant to all areas of Renee’s professional life.

Some things are unpredictable, however, and 2020 threw a spanner in the works as Renee tried to open the Adytum space.

“The concept for Adytum was conceived in late 2018, well before the global pandemic hit,” she says.

“Some of the restrictions imposed because of COVID-19 have led to a deeper consideration of home and how we occupy the spaces we live in.”

“Now, more than ever, practices of meaningful ritual within the home such as brewing a loose-leaf tisane, or immersing yourself in a warm bath at the end of the day, offer sensory and experiential escapes.”

It all comes back to the third place philosophy, Renee says.

“It’s these moments that separate home and work, and provide respite in an unsettling time for everyone,” says Renee.

“These considered moments are the very essence of the third place.”

Tickets for Material Subjects can be found here.

Words by Elly Mackay. Photos by Ash St George and supplied.

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