Post 550  by Gautam Shah



Dolly Johnson, personal cook to President Benjamin Harrison, in the small white house kitchen 1890

The human abode is focussed on the position of food preparation area. Oxford’s dictionary defines the focus, (originally a Latin word), as the hearth. The hearth, food preparation and mother, designate a home. Food preparation is just a slot in a time schedule with a casual occupation in space. Its task utilities, though are sited everywhere in the dwelling. Food preparation and related utilities are continuously shifted to exploit the environment, social needs, fuel management, built form, etc. as available within and without the precinct of a dwelling. Food consumption has been diversely connected to the food preparation area, mainly due to the discomfort of emissions from fuels of the hearth and secondarily the changing pattern of social relationships. As the dining moved away, the kitchen began to be neglected. The kitchen was likened to a dungeon, an un-owned or non-personal space, managed by a retinue of servants. The quality of food and related services failed to impress the guests. Compared to this, the participatory kitchens of crafts’ person or farmers were lively spaces.


Sudanese woman preparing traditional bread Kisra Wikipedia image by Mohamed Elfaith Hamadien

 Some Blog links on related topics:


FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – II Kitchen and its place in the house

FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – III Kitchen and evolution of its Facilities



FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – VI -Kitchen Design by Fires

FOOD PREPARATION SYSTEMS – VII -Kitchen facilities and tasks



KITCHEN and its shifting position



Roasting, medieval illuminated manuscript (Tacuina santatis casanatensis 14th C.)


KITCHEN and its shifting position

Post 381 – by Gautam Shah 



Kitchen as a space module, over the years, has been shifting around the dwelling. The shifts have occurred due to technological changes inside and outside the kitchen. These compulsive changes, have altered the nature of all other units of dwelling, except the bedroom. The interrelationships between the units of dwellings have been reset many times. Some new ones have become evident, whereas others have separated, merged with others, or just perished.

x Old Stone House kitchen

The kitchen is an intensive activity area, and so in comparison to the entire house, its dependence on outside resources is more acute. The perimeter of the kitchen thus becomes the prime location of touching the outside connections. A kitchen can never be a centric place in the dwelling, though a hearth was such a facility. The outside connections have occurred due to supplies of fuels, commodities and water, disposal of effluents and other wastes, ventilation for replacement of air and moisture, and view out as a relief from long duration occupation.

Werdenberg._Schlangenhaus._Ground_floor._Kitchen_-_010A ‘Kitchen’ consists Four main zones, storing, food processing area, cooking zone, and dining area. There could be other smaller identities such as fuel storage, water storage and kitchen utensils cleaning, laundry area, bathing area (in some ages and cultures), servants’ area (sleeping-resting). All these could be within an architectural space or in segmented form. The kitchen has been grounded or placed as a dungeon. In urban centers, this arrangement has not been possible in multi floored dwellings. Kitchens in Roman apartments on upper floors (such as on third or fourth floors) were not workable. Here the water, fuel and commodities supplies were difficult and disposal of solid waste more problematic. Romans relied more for foods on bakeries located at ground floors and for bathing used public toilets. The Parisian apartment or London raw house kitchens opened to backyards, not a place worthy to open out, through a window or door. In both types of cases, supplies were difficult to manage.

Roman Kitchen

Fuel and water supplies due to the bulk, and effluents and solid wastes have been irritants for kitchen arrangements. Every technical innovation, such as compact and high efficiency fuels, piped supply of water, drainage system, chimneys, glazed windows, has been readily accepted.


The dining, wherever possible, was first to be separated from the smoke-odour filled and soot-covered kitchen. The kitchen-dining could stay apart wherever servants were available and affordable, or had to be adjunct spaces. Similarly cloth and utensils washing became adjunct spaces. Bathing, which was part of the kitchen in colder climates, moved away.

Villa Rustica Ahrweiler Küche der Mansion

Villa Rustica Ahrweiler Küche der Mansion


A kitchen gradually became increasingly dependent on the outside world as supplies became diverse and more frequent. Urban kitchens depended on fresh and day to day supplies that were partly processed. These reduced the size of food processing area, wastes volume, fuel requirements, manpower needs and time involved in cooking. With smaller spatial requirements or more attuned space arrangement, the kitchen became a place to participate with a maid then delegate it to the maid. This also resulted in better recipes (rational processes) and quality of food.


The participation in cooking and related processes in a cleaner kitchen brought back the dining (at least breakfast, quick tea) to the kitchen. Participation by various members of family has seen many different trends. The modern age has offered outside work opportunities to women, resulting in much more intense sharing of the kitchen related responsibilities by other family members. The trend has been supported by kitchen design, gadgets, feeder and other services, pre-processed foods, and most importantly the fast food joints restaurants, and work place catering.




Post 362 – by Gautam Shah


Kitchen and Dining adjacency

Kitchen and Dining adjacency

Cooking and Dining, have been conjunct areas. Dining is intimately related to the food preparation activity. Dining area has been shifting close and away from cooking area. The reasons are due to environmental, ethnic, social, religious, organizational and technological reasons. Cooking and dining, originally flourished, in the same space segment; separated in the middle ages, and once again merged during the last century. The dining, however, is now poised to supersede the kitchen or cooking. Dining itself may become a food ‘preparation’ area.

Modern Design Residential Counter Kitchen Interior

The Kitchen-dining, have had varied proximity mainly due to the environmental factors. Cooking areas in all climate zones were untidy and uncomfortable due to heat, smoke, and soot, all due to poor quality fuels. To compound these odours of food preparation and garbage, were not easily manageable. In tropics it was possible to prepare food in open or semi-open spaces, but in colder climates environmental control was dependent on chimneys or roof holes. Natural illumination was another concern in absence of glazed openings. Cooking and dining, still remained adjunct to each other in all climate zones. In smaller dwellings, both remained in the same space, but in large mansions the retinue of servants mediated the separation.


Johann Heinrich Sturmer Kochin Wikipedia image

The dining area has had many different forms, depending on the nature of food, schedules, moods, companionship, sex, age and social standing of the diners, ambiance of space, and other engagements. Dining consists of morning tea, breakfast, lunch, brunch, afternoon tea and snacks, supper or evening meals, or late night caps. These are taken in different sections of the house. The settings for food consumption ranges from a stiff dining table to an informal verandah, nurseries, terraces, home garden, to very intimate one in bed.

Small kitchen

Small kitchen

Small houses due to space restraints may combine food preparation, cooking and dining to same section of the space and share the amenities. Urban families stay in smaller houses where dining is more of the functional need without any scope for social interaction. The busy life styles, (working husband and wife, other adults) does not permit extensive cooking at home, or have frequent dinner guests. A bar platform, once an intervening element between the kitchen and dining or the extension of a pantry, meant for brunch and fast-track meal; now began to replace the formal dining space and table. The functional bar like a platform with tall stools, allows one to have a quick-bite in a standing or semi-siting position. Such small dwellings and single person units do away with the formal dining table or a designated space.

Kitchen and dining

Kitchen store room

Indian Kitchen Pantry + Store Room

The kitchen and dining were once separated through a pantry. The pantry and store rooms began to be useless for several reasons, 24×7 hours assured supplies, smaller size of family and less frequent partying at home. The kitchen-dining also began to be connected through a door, often double leaf glass doors. The kitchen-dining connection was further dilated with removal of the mid-barriers. An exclusive kitchen conceded the living room (family room) to the drawing room, but a living room, well integrated with the kitchen, allowed the drawing room to exist on its own -a secluded space.

Kitchen – Dining – Family room –as one space

Dining room is merging into the kitchen for other reasons. For husband and wife as a working couple find the combined kitchen and dining with better chance of communication, for being together, and enjoy the soap operas.

Kitchen - Dining connection --double leaf glass doors

Kitchen – Dining connection –double leaf glass doors

Food preparation cooking, serving, and dining, were all well delineated in terms of the purpose, place and space. But these have been changing. Modern homes subsist on pre-cooked, preserved, ready packaged foods. These require warming in a microwave and the serviettes, dishes, bowls, tableware, are disposable. The working person has lunch at the workplace, and dinner in a restaurant. The kitchen and dining are deprived of their core functions.


171115-F-AL359-9996 - rotator



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.

1 Bread baking ART by Anders Zorn (1860–1920)

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.

2 Kitchen range at Canons Ashby House Wikipedia Image by Wehha

3 Restored version of Kitchen, Benjamin Stephenson House, Edwardsville, Illinois Wikipedia Image by Rklawton

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.

4 Pantry -geograph-3630614-by-Kenneth--Allen

5 Frying Range Wikipedia image by Rathfelder at English Wikipedia

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.

6 Front window in Kitchen

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.

8 Cutlery Pantry cabinet

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.

9 Julia Child's kitchen at Smithsonian National Museum of American History -Attribution Matthew G



Post 216 – by Gautam Shah


Hearth and Kitchen




Hearth in the Kitchen has been the most important entity of kitchen formation. All functions of kitchen, such as the food preparation, cooking, consumption, arranging water, fuel and other resources, smoke, effluents, and solid waste management, cleaning (of foods and vessels), washing (laundry), bathing (family members and staff), storage systems, and food consumption must be resolved for the convenience of hearth usage.

Space Station foods



Hearth form, size and location inside or outside the dwelling enclosure are decided by climate and social taboos. Hearth and its fuel, together determined the time spent for cooking, proximity of dining, nature of cooking, and social interactions within the family. Some strong dilemmas have always existed ‘as to what could and should remain with the hearth, and what must be placed away from it or outside the kitchen’

Caboose_(ship_stove)Kitchen is a place where means and methods continuously evolve. Activities of kitchen are strongly affected quality of fuel, foods and condiments available, urbanization, mobility of family (migrant, nomadic, ethnic), climate (seasons’ cycles), geography and heritage. Foreign influences such as new condiments, foods, vegetables, and recipes affect the kitchen form very readily. Vanquished and victorious civilizations, both are affected, if not by each others’ culture, and surely by foods and cooking. Societies that were geographically secluded, or not in war, stayed frozen in the time section, but with maturing their ethnicity.

Indonesian_brick_stoveWhen new foods arrive, new kitchen planning ideology also sets in. The stew in the cauldron on fire place like hearths, and open fire baked breads; were replaced with frying pans and closed chamber baking. This change also entailed platform-based cooking. Sink attached or connected with the platform and its drainage facility encouraged piped plumbing. The heat, smoke and soot of a hearth were vented through stacks or properly sited and adequately sized windows. The bathing tub of the family went out of the kitchen, into a separate chamber, called bathroom or toilet. Openly stacked stores were chambered into specific rooms.

Peasant_Woman_Cooking_by_a_FireplaceIn the middle ages, urban centers like Venice, London, Paris, etc. redefined dwellings emerged for urban family depending on urban supply system. Many of these urban dwellings were shared structures and located away from the ground (upper floor houses). A major change came with the charcoal and mineral coal replacing the wood. The new fuels were less massive, and had better heat output. The emissions were lesser and manageable. The kitchen now became exclusively a food preparation zone. It remained women’s domain. She spent substantial part of time overlooking cooking, but in the intermittent period busied herself with crafts.Woodcut_kitchenJean-François_Millet_(II)_005



Post 215 ⇒   by Gautam Shah 


Kitchen and evolution of its Facilities


The kitchen related storage systems, their spread and mass in a dwelling are determined by the routine climate, cycles of seasons, kinship within the community, degree of urbanization and industrialization in the society. It is a tradition borne out of wisdom and accumulated experiences. ‘An efficient storage system is ingrained in the family lifestyle, and is a heritage of a community.’


Storage management has been a family vocation as much as a community concern. Communities bound by ethnic affinity ensure continuous supplies for all their members. Kitchens, sustain well, if supplies of food, water and fuel, are available at the doorstep. The concern for supplies is more pronounced in extreme climates, difficult terrains and lonely locations. The place of cooking is environmentally too hostile for storage of food stuffs, and so raw foods are stored elsewhere in the house. Food preparation is rarely dimensionally small and spatially insignificant activity. Food preparation rather then cooking requires more space. With assured supplies the food preparation processes become less bothersome. Romans were staying in multi-story (a 4-5 floor high) apartment like buildings. It was difficult to carry water, fuel and other supplies to upper floors, so relied on the ground floor bakers. The food preparation zone becomes omnipresent in the dwelling due to the spread of storage utilities. A moderate climate zone offers multi season replenishments, obviating the need for large volume storage. In hot arid climates, the house appears to be made of only storage utilities, whereas the cooking looks like physically a very small time and space activity.


Industrialized and urban localities have the advantage of supplies being delivered in ‘nearly ready to cook’ form and without much delay. Storage needs of an urban house are very much smaller.

DCF 1.0

Mansions of the rich had kitchen storage systems of very large variety and volume, but spread at several locations. Cooking vessels were large sized and shaped to meet needs of fancy recipes. The kitchen had fuel store, water source area, cleaning and washing section, meat rooms, milk and butter section. The staff at kitchen level dined in the kitchen, and required large volume of dishes, bowls, etc. The prepared food was taken to upper floor bedrooms, chambers, dining rooms or coffee rooms, requiring service items such as trays and trolleys. The food was taken to pantry area of the floor, to be rewarmed, reserved in silver or porcelains. The pantry area had many sub sections, such as the silver room, linen room, etc.

Banquet de Charles V

Banquet de Charles V

The lifestyle of rich was naturally emulated by others in the society. The difference was that their houses were not so large. They did not have the capacity to retain an army of food-zone related staff. Often the housewife was required to intervene in the kitchen activities. The involvement of the housewife assured that kitchen was a clean and well-articulated place. Most of the kitchen related storage systems were in the kitchen or in an attached store room.

Task utilities of a kitchen are sited everywhere in the house to take advantage of the varied sensual experiences and comforts, as offered by the house. Certain amenities, like the grinding stone, butter milk churner, flour-mill, vegetable chopper, were fixed to a location, for advantaging the architectural, and other functional attributes of the space. Other task utilities, however, are shifted from place to place on schedules of daily, seasonal or occasional nature, to exploit the environment, climate, illumination, etc. available within and without the precinct of a kitchen.

Wall Hearth

Free Hearth -Chulha