Infrastructural Maintenance

December 12, 2018

Task 6 drawing


Kitchen sink realism at its worst

“In setting the conditions for this experience – curating the experiential value of space, maintaining the object whether along with or counter to the intensions of its author – the low and denigrated chores of housework are not ‘Other’ to architecture: they are what ensure architecture’s claim of being an art. The omission of housework from architectural discourse thus exposes the fragile, yet enduring imaginations of authorship, progress and control that structure the discipline. Housework confronts us with what it really takes to keep architecture pure and proper, and the broader field of exploitations kept out of the equation. Making housework central for a re-evaluation of architecture is to maintain it as a critical, creative and caring practice, which in the current realm of capitalism is hard and dirty work.”

Catharina Gabrielsson, 2018, “The Critical Potential of Housework”

At 12 years old my mother declared that she had been a mother for long enough, it was time to contribute to the maintenance of the house. Like most I can’t say that I enjoyed the cleaning, vacuuming, dusting, washing of clothes etc. At that age it was mostly necessary so my parents wouldn’t nag too much. What I did like though was cooking, and probably since it was affiliated to it – doing dishes. Even though we had a dishwasher growing up, I used to do the dishes by hand anyway. Not sure why, but I just enjoyed it.

Now since then I not only had to do these things at home like everybody else, but for roughly 10 years I also worked in restaurants in different capacities – starting out, like one does, as a dishwasher. Through my years in that line of work I would say I am pretty proficient in a kitchen, I’m good at working on small surfaces, stacking and planning accordingly to make the most out of the space. You learn early on that a serving or cooking station should always be clean, so not spreading out is key.

This skill has served me well, but with the so called kitchen I have today, even such an ability is tested to its’ limits . The layout is minimal; one stove, one sink and just one 60 cm galvanized steel area to work on. And since there is no dishwasher, the majority of the free workspace is almost always occupied by the dishes in the dish rack. Every day is a constant game of Tetris to manage the most basic tasks in this “kitchen”. Constantly things fall, break and overflow due to the lacking space. This causes more wear than need be. It all makes you wonder if the responsible architects ever set foot in a kitchen before, or have any idea of its’ needs or how it’s used and maintained.

Unfortunately this kitchen layout is probably mostly a result of a spatial solution that premiers compactness to maximize other spaces and “checking the box” of having a kitchen. The result is in this case a situation where the inhabited space is constantly combating the poor conditions created by the architecture. There is of course also an economic incentive to minimize the kitchen, but the increased wear to the space and complete dysfunctional layout that causes more housework to be needed should be enough to argue for its’ re-evaluation. Architects can provide solutions to these issues, but only if we are willing to inhabit the spaces we create, even after the photos for the portfolio have been taken.

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