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Kitchen

 From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A kitchen is a room or part of a room used for cooking and food preparation.

In the West, a modern residential kitchen is typically equipped with a stove, a sink with hot and cold running water, a refrigerator and kitchen cabinets. Many households have a microwave oven, a dishwasher and other electric appliances. The main function of a kitchen is cooking or preparing food but it may also be used for dining and entertaining.

 
 

History

The evolution of the kitchen is linked to the invention of the cooking range or stove and the development of water infrastructure capable of supplying water to private homes. Until the 18th century, food was cooked over an open fire. Technical advances in heating food in the 18th and 19th centuries, changed the architecture of the kitchen. Before the advent of modern pipes, water was brought from an outdoor source such as wells, pumps or springs.

 Antiquity

The houses in Ancient Greece were commonly of the atrium-type: the rooms were arranged around a central courtyard. In many such homes, a covered but otherwise open patio served as the kitchen. Homes of the wealthy had the kitchen as a separate room, usually next to a bathroom (so that both rooms could be heated by the kitchen fire), both rooms being accessible from the court. In such houses, there was often a separate small storage room in the back of the kitchen used for storing food and kitchen utensils.

In the Roman Empire, common folk in cities often had no kitchen of their own; they did their cooking in large public kitchens. Some had small mobile bronze stoves, on which a fire could be lit for cooking. Wealthy Romans had relatively well-equipped kitchens. In a Roman villa, the kitchen was typically integrated into the main building as a separate room, set apart for practical reasons of smoke and sociological reasons of the kitchen being operated by slaves. The fireplace was typically on the floor, placed at a wall—sometimes raised a little bit—such that one had to kneel to cook. There were no chimneys.

Open kitchens

Starting in the 1980s, the perfection of the extractor hood allowed an open kitchen again, integrated more or less with the living room without causing the whole apartment or house to smell. Before that, only a few earlier experiments, typically in newly built upper middle class family homes, had open kitchens. Examples are Frank Lloyd Wright's House Willey (1934) and House Jacobs (1936). Both had open kitchens, with high ceilings (up to the roof) and were aired by skylights. The extractor hood made it possible to build open kitchens in apartments, too, where both high ceilings and skylights were not possible.

The re-integration of the kitchen and the living area went hand in hand with a change in the perception of cooking: increasingly, cooking was seen as a creative and sometimes social act instead of work, especially in upper social classes. Besides, many families also appreciated the trend towards open kitchens, as it made it easier for the parents to supervise the children while cooking. The enhanced status of cooking also made the kitchen a prestige object for showing off one's wealth or cooking professionalism. Some architects have capitalized on this "object" aspect of the kitchen by designing freestanding "kitchen objects". However, like their precursor, Colani's "kitchen satellite", such futuristic designs are exceptions.

Another reason for the trend back to open kitchens (and a foundation of the "kitchen object" philosophy) is changes in how food is prepared. Whereas prior to the 1950s most cooking started out with raw ingredients and a meal had to be prepared from scratch, the advent of frozen meals and pre-prepared convenience food changed the cooking habits of many people, who consequently used the kitchen less and less. For others, who followed the "cooking as a social act" trend, the open kitchen had the advantage that they could be with their guests while cooking, and for the "creative cooks" it might even become a stage for their cooking performance. The "Trophy Kitchen" is highly equipped with very expensive and sophisticated appliances which are used primarily to impress visitors and to project social status, rather than for actual cooking.

 

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