On Friday 12th February 2016, I organised a trip out to the City of Maroondah’s new $24m state-of-the-art, The Realm in Ringwood which is a Business, Cultural, Language and Innovation Centre.
Opened in October last year and located directly opposite the new Ringwood train station, the Realm incorporates green spaces, cafes, retail shops as well as a library that has different activity spaces, an art space that holds exhibitions, a cafe and a business co-working hub.
As a member of the Kingston Co-working Collective (a Facebook community of people in my local area that was “established to drive the development of a co-working space for business owners, entrepreneurs and start ups in the City of Kingston municipality”) I organised this tour for our group to see an example of a co-working space that was designed and managed by a council (local government).
Here is a short video I created on the day.
I’ve been thinking a lot about ‘third places’ in my community and what I loved about Ringwood’s vision is that central town square that is so sadly lacking in many Melbourne suburbs which follow the typical American urban design of strip shops and shopping malls.
The casual feel of a central square reminded me of the European piazzas where people of all ages could gather any time of the day or night and offer ‘third place’ away from home and work.
Although it is about a 30 minute drive away from home, I will be definitely going back there again soon. The public transport is convenient and accessible and for the same amount of time it takes me to travel into the city, I am afforded more space and less crowds here.
I’d love it if our own area of City of Kingston or City of Glen Eira had a similar outdoor space but something tells me it will be a matter of time when urban planners realise that there are a lot more people working from home and spending more time locally and this is highlighting a potential gap in community gathering spaces.