Infrastructural Instruments

December 12, 2018

Task 3 drawing

 

When the walls come crashing down

 

“I had hardly imagined how West Berlin was actually imprisoned by the Wall. I had never really thought about that condition, and the paradox that even though it was surrounded by a wall, West Berlin was called “free,” and that the much larger area beyond the Wall was not considered free … [and that] … the Wall was not really a single object but a system…”

Hans Ulrich Obrist, 2003 “Part 1: On Berlin’s New Architecture”
cited in Ronald Rael, 2012, “Boundary Line Infrastructure”

The open kitchen solution is something that might not be viewed as more than a design solution that some of us find appealing. Today the kitchen is less likely to overheat the rest of the house or fill it with noxious cooking smells thanks to modern technology such as good vent hoods and well insulated ovens. This makes it possible to place the kitchen in a direct connection to other central parts of our living space. In modern renovations of kitchens it is common to open up spaces and make them more interconnected, but that’s mostly an aesthetical choice, right?
From a simple open hearth in a common area the kitchen evolved in the early to mid-nineteenth century to a space apart dedicated just for cooking. This efficient work place of women was a big progress from the unsanitary and unsafe open hearth style cooking, but it also cut off the space from other family activities, and reinforced the concept of gendered home spaces. Usually the kitchen was small and closed off from the rest of the, no meals where had here, since the space was so small, so no one else passed through this space.

For the next hundred years kitchen technology changed but the format of a separate kitchen space did not. Wood fired stoves were replaced with electric or gas ovens and ranges, modern plumbing and refrigeration became normal and then standard but the kitchen stayed firmly the domain of the housewife. Standardization of the kitchen spaces took over and as it became less common with servants, the kitchen grew to include some space for at least breakfast to be served in this room, but the walls remained. Today this strongly gendered and enclosed concept of a kitchen doesn’t serve the average household well anymore. Even in households where someone temporarily or permanently stays home, the kitchen is no longer considered the singular domain of one family member.

For many of us, the kitchen is something more than a just a space of producing our food, we socialize in the kitchen and often have to help each other out to make the most out of the time we have. A kitchen for multiple users who can circulate around a common work space, share supplies, and make eye contact with each other then seems to be more in tune with the lives we live today. The person (or persons) cooking aren’t cut off from activities elsewhere in the space and anyone can wander into the kitchen and help themselves to a cutting board or the refrigerator without interrupting the flow. By removing the walls of the kitchen, and integrating it with the rest of our homes, it has the potential to further rid itself of its’ gendered constraints.

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