Kitchen Planning in Coventry

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Domestic kitchen design per se is a relatively recent discipline in Coventry. The first ideas to optimize the work in the kitchen go back to Catharine Beecher's A Treatise on Domestic Economy (1843, revised and republished together with her sister Harriet Beecher Stowe as The American Woman's Home in 1869). Beecher's "model kitchen" propagated for the first time a systematic design based on early ergonomics. The design included regular shelves on the walls, ample work space, and dedicated storage areas for various food items. Beecher even separated the functions of preparing food and cooking it altogether by moving the stove into a compartment adjacent to the kitchen.

 

Christine Frederick published from 1913 a series of articles on "New Household Management" in which she analyzed the kitchen following Taylorist principles, presented detailed time-motion studies, and derived a kitchen design from them. Her ideas were taken up in the 1920s by architects in Germany and Austria, most notably Bruno Taut, Erna Meyer, and Margarete Schütte-Lihotzky. A social housing project in Frankfurt (the Römerstadt of architect Ernst May) realized in 1927/8 was the breakthrough for her Frankfurt kitchen, which embodied this new notion of efficiency in the kitchen.

 

While this "work kitchen" and variants derived from it were a great success for tenement buildings, home ownersin Coventry had different demands and did not want to be constrained by a 6.4 m² kitchen. Nevertheless, kitchen design was mostly ad-hoc following the whims of the architect. In the U.S., the "Small Homes Council", since 1993 the "Building Research Council", of the School of Architecture of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was founded in 1944 with the goal to improve the state of the art in home building, originally with an emphasis on standardization for cost reduction. It was there that the notion of the kitchen work triangle was formalized: the three main functions in a kitchen are storage, preparation, and cooking (which Catharine Beecher had already recognized), and the places for these functions should be arranged in the kitchen in such a way that work at one place does not interfere with work at another place, the distance between these places is not unnecessarily large, and no obstacles are in the way. A natural arrangement is a triangle, with the refrigerator, the sink, and the stove at a vertex each.

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