Convivial spaces

Looking out of the Circa Cafe to Wentworth Street

I visited Parramatta on Monday. By chance I found the Circa Cafe.

My wife, Sue, and I had breakfast there. It is the kind of cafe we like and where I feel particularly comfortable. It was constructed in an alleyway in Wentworth Street and is a single storey structure.

Its furnishings reminded me of the Elephant Boy Cafe in Bowral and many of the laneway cafes I have visited in Melbourne. I was interested to read on Circa’s website:

The intention was to provide high quality coffee and food experience in a quirky and unusual setting which would be fun. The premises were designed based on some of the classical laneway cafe styles of Melbourne using up-cycled materials and items. The premises evolved naturally and organically over the years, to maximise the experience for our guests.

The owner, Aykut Sayan, said of his plans when starting the cafe in 2010 “The only thing that I wanted was to share my love of food and coffee with others, that’s all”.

Circa Cafe decoration

Whenever I enter spaces like Circa, I think about how significant they are in my reflections about places where teachers, learners, coaches and athletes meet.

In their discussion of living cities, Steve Hinchliffe and Sarah Whatmore observe:

If cities are inhabited with and against the grain of urban design, such inhabitation also involves more than living with the city. It involves ecologies becoming urban, and cities becoming ecological. (2006:128)

Living with and against the grain of design, becoming and learning to live among and as others mark out some of the contours of what we are calling a living city. (2006:134)

If we are fortunate, each of us as a teacher or coach, has the opportunity to invest in ecologies of learning. Circa is not a lavish space. It is fascinating, invitational space enriched by excellent service.

It was the kind of space that was hard to leave and one that would be a delight to revisit. Which encouraged me to think about the kind of pedagogy that might pervade such an environment.

I considered too that the Circa space might not be to everyone’s taste and how I might go about creating changes in spaces that facilitate “living with and against the grain of design”. 

It requires me to think about architectural practice too and address issues raised by Matthew Rampley (2005), amongst others:

Architecture needs to be thought of less as a set of special material products and rather more as range of social and professional practices that sometimes, but by no means always, lead to building.

It is remarkable what a cafe and a single origin coffee (from Honduras) can stimulate. In the laneway in Wentworth Street, pedagogy met conviviality met ecology met social practices.

Outside Circa cafe

Photo Credits

Circa Cafe (Keith Lyons, CC BY 4.0)

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