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Design Review: Volume 4, Issue 1 (July-August 1951)

In Your Kitchen

page 5

In Your Kitchen

The preparation and consumption of food is one of the principal activities carried on in a home. The preparation involves generally but one person, and that person the most hard worked member of the family: the consumption brings the whole family together, generally once each day, in what is in this age of hurry and bustle perhaps the only opportunity left for family intercourse. From the house-wifely point of view, any form of arrangement facilitating the preparation of food would be welcome: on the point of family relationships any means whereby the home environment may benefit such relationships is surely to be desired.

Consider your kitchen for a moment. Does the business of food preparation mean countless steps from one part of your kitchen to another, requiring of your each day the stamina of a distance runner? Or does its arrangement save your feet? Are the heights of working tops and most used cup boards placed so as to prevent an aching back at the sink, and eliminate the necessity to use a stool to get to upper shelves? The two sketches — ‘Heights’ and ‘Reaching’ — illustrate dimesions in general use, and show that the extent of ‘live’ storage is from the lower units up to a maximum height of seven feet. Above this point reaching is difficult and requires a stool.

In a kitchen there are three main operations which occur in sequence. These are: I — Storage, II — Preparation, and III — Cooking and Serving and are illustrated in diagram form. It will be obvious that any through traffic in the kitchen should be carefully routed away from the main working areas, or ‘bumps’ into people holding pans of boiling water or fat are certain to occur, not to speak of the constant irritation to the page 6 page 7 distraught housewife saddled perhaps with unexpected guests at a time when children are charging about. The U-shaped layout is best for this purpose, as the diagram shows. The operation sequence diagram is illustrated perhaps more clearly in the plan showing ‘Activities’.

At this point I would ask, you to remember the old family kitchen of your childhood; or if this is assuming too many years on your shoulders the old family kitchen of your parents childhood, as in the sketch 1908. Although such an arrangement of living room and scullery undoubtedly caused colossal wear and tear on the spirits and physique of the Edwardian housewife, the family social centre was certainly where the food was cooked and eaten. Subsequent developments have tended to transform the kitchen into a smaller and smaller space, with ever increasing cupboard spae, but gradually becoming completely separated from the eating place. Due to today's problems of lack of space through regulations and cost, and lack of help through shortage of domes tice assistance, the suggestions contained in the sketch 1948 and in the two perspective views would seem to be forced on us. In a sense we are back where we started in 1908 — but, it is hoped, more efficiently so, and yet with much the same comfort.

In this kitchen bench tops would be covered with lino or one of the various kinds of plastic sheeting. The windows suggested are the louvre type as have page 8 been advertised in Design Review. Flooring could be cork tile, lino or rubber — and walls enamelled. As a relief to such bright glazed surfaces and to introduce natural finishes, waxed woodwork is suggested on some cup boards and wall surfaces. Sliding doors do not curtail the comparatively small area forced on us by building costs, and can reduce the intolerably large number of doors, hinges and catches in the modern house. Crockery of good design ought to be looked at, so the open shelves at the servery allow easy access and display. Two-way drawers alongside the servery contain cuilery and cloths.

Cooking smells are extracted by the small exhaust fan set in the fixed glass at back of cooker.

Built in furniture in the dining portion comprises bookshelves, settee, radio and miscellaneous storage. Double glazed doors opening on to a terrace allow advantage to be taken o those rare days when outdoor meals are possible. The whole question of outdoor living is to be the subject of a future article in Design Review.