Post 312 – by Gautam Shah
Kitchens have been wall dependent facilities in all climates. The kitchen hearths were walled to protect the fire from winds. In warm climates the exterior shading walls were of small height, but in colder regions the interior walls were used. The wall and the chimney provided the latent heat storage capacity, to conserve heat and release it in off hours. The colder region kitchens began to open out (de-walled) when efficient fuels and compact hearths were available. The warm region climate kitchens began to move inside the house for the same reason.
Kitchens were wall dependent as nearly all the utilities, such as vents, water supply, drainage and storage were wall-mounted. The only facility, to remain free or stand-alone for a long time, was the central preparation platform or table. The table in the centre of a kitchen provided a work surface, where one could sit or stand to knead, chop, mix or serve food. This began to change with improved supply chain offering substantially cleaned, prepared and partly cooked foods. The work on the central platform or table was transferred to cooking area. The compact and cooler (from outside) hearth offered sufficient adjacent space for food preparation.
The wall adjunct kitchen platform now had smaller but multi facility cooking range and a food preparation area. The cooking range was a ground-based apparatus, fed with coal. The face of the cooking zone was mostly an opaque wall, occasionally carrying an open or concealed chimney stack. The wall was without any opening for view out, illumination, or ventilation. The piped water supply or drainage system, both were casual appendages. The cooking zone was a straight wall aligned arrangement of loosely placed entities, food preparation table or platform, the cooking range, the water supply basin. The storage was on placed on the floor, hung on the walls, or shelved in assigned rooms. The assigned rooms were facilities in larger mansions, to store specific things such as crockery, silver, linen, milk products, meat and poultry items, etc. This was the aspiration everyone had for even the small dwelling. It, however, was translated into compartmentalization of storeroom or pantry. It later became provision of cabinets. Fancy crockery and silver were placed in dining room as show-pieces. The kitchen was wall-full of cabinets.
Restaurants, ships, and commercial or industrial kitchens began to adopt ‘scientific gadgets’ and kitchen systems. The emphasis here was clean-ability, hygiene, maintenance, streamlined layout, ergonomics faster output or efficiency. This was readily adopted in home kitchens. Ladies journals also encouraged two concepts, the efficiency triangle (the limitative distance a housewife should cover between the freeze, hearth and sink) and the view out from cooking or preparation area.
The view out, meant not just breaking open the wall that was abutting the kitchen utilities, but selecting a good view. In the first case it meant rearranging the cabinets, and for second case the house layout had to be redefined. The Kitchen was backyard-connected affair, now had to be relocated for the front street view.
The need for store room diminished for two different reasons, the walled cabinets provided sufficient storage space and the supplies in most of the urban areas were easy to procure, reliable in delivery and partially processed. There was no need to fill up the home with year-long requirements.
The kitchen was a place for the family, but not yet for formal dinners. A dining room was a ceremonial space, close to the kitchen. The kitchen and dining area were two distinct spatial entities. Very wide twin glass doors between the two virtually merged them. Over the years the need for formal dining area is met by outdoor eating.