The creators of the concept thought of naming the place an anti-café, as it is a space conceived for work and relaxation. Here you can feel at home. You can work on a project or learn for exams, you can have a chat with friends or read, take part in a workshop or organize it. The only cost is the time you spend here. Events organizer and coordinator Victor Alexa told us how the idea occurred to him, and how it took shape.
Victor Alexa: ”The Seneca Anticafé is the second in a series of such projects. The first project was that of the Seneca Publishing House, and as part of this project we re-published fragments from the writings of the Stoic philosophers in a more interesting and also more accessible format for our century. Having seen that the project has got through to the public who enjoyed it, the Seneca Anticafé came as an extension of that concept, where we put many more valuable and useful things together, in terms of resources. When conceiving the project we tried to put ourselves in the shoes of our future visitors, and express expectations as to what to find and what to read there. All those who visited Anticafé said it didn’t feel like being in a café, they felt a lot better and appreciated the very pleasant atmosphere. We have all sorts of books from various fields. Right now, for instance, we have the largest collection of ecology books you may find in Romania. We have a great many philosophy and personal development books. And not only that: there are practical, working resources, writing tools, all sort of kits. There‘s an exhibition here all the time, it is a place where you can meet all sorts of professionals, where you can enjoy time and do something precious, that’s what we’ve intended to do.”
Everything is for free, save for time. At the entrance, the staff members write down the time you entered. And, if you want to make your stay at the café more pleasant, you have unlimited access to a refreshment bar where you can have tea, water and snacks. Furthermore, those who want to bring in their own food can warm it in a microwave oven, and they can also bring in non-alcoholic beverages. Victor Alexa has told us that people of all ages are welcome here:
Victor Alexa: “We are addressing all people, not only the speakers of Romanian because we also have books in English, French, Italian and Russian, almost in all languages. Everybody is welcome here, from teenagers to older people. The most important for our visitors is to do useful things. We charge 8 Romanian lei per one hour because we value time and it’s up to our visitors to make the most of their time. We expect that our visitors eventually realize their time is the most precious they have.”
Visitors of the Anticafé can get access to working benches, games, books, the Internet and pay only for the time they spend there. Worth noting is that no money is charged after five hours spent in the facility. In the following minutes Victor Alexa will be telling us more about how this anticafé is organized.
Victor Alexa: ”It is a big, friendly space divided in several sections. It is an open space, as sections aren’t physically divided, but every part is defined by the resources it has. There is a section almost entirely devoted to working, a library and bookshop and there is a section that looks like a café, for discussions and meetings.”
The place seems to be the perfect venue for effective working: a quiet space, high-speed Internet connection, tables and chairs, reading lamps, power sockets, a printer, a scanner, a theatre projector, specialized books and magazines. And if the project you are working on requires special resources, the organizers here are ready to assist you with the appropriate equipment pre-ordered by an e-mail. Furthermore, events staged here can spark off interests in various other fields of activity. From Victor Alexa we’ve learnt that the anticafé can host exhibitions, conferences and workshops.
Victor Alexa: ”Last year we hosted workshops for children; they were workshops on philosophy, film production and screenings. We are basically trying to carry on the same actions we promoted last year: philosophy, personal development, ecology, screenings and debate sessions.”
“The Art of Listening”, “On Compassion”, “Emil Cioran and Mircea Eliade. Influences in the Mexican Culture”, are only some of the titles of the debate series held here a year ago. The anticafé encourages people’s thirst for knowledge being a place where tobacco and alcohol consumption, bad language and gambling are forbidden.