Christopher Alexander on Kitchens

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Christopher Alexander’s book, A Pattern Language, has been used for decades by architects, designers, and homeowners to help create a home life that is comfortable, delightful, and functional. While I’ve referred to the book often in my practice as an architect, I’ve never set out specifically in search of how the book regards kitchens and eating spaces. Until now, that is:

Not surprisingly, Alexander touches on the kitchen a few times in the book. Some sections are dedicated to the space. Section 139, for intstance:

This pattern defines an ancient kind of kitchen where the cooking and the eating and the living are all in a single space… Make [the kitchen] large enough to hold a good big table and chairs, some soft and some hard, with counters and stove and sink around the edge of the room; and make it a bright and comfortable room… Give the kitchen light on two sides.

Cooking is uncomfortable if the kitchen counter is too short and also if it is too long… There is no need for the counter to be entirely “built-in” as it is in many modern kitchens – it can even consist of free-standing tables or counter tops.

Dark gloomy kitchens are depressing. The kitchen need the sun more than other rooms, not less… Place the main part of the kitchen counter on the south and southeast side so that sun can flood in and fill the kitchen with yellow light both morning and afternoon.

Cupboards that are too deep waste valuable space, and it always seems that what you want is behind something else… Cover the walls with narrow shelves of varying depth but always shallow enough that things can be placed on them one deep – nothing hiding behind anything else…

And our favorite:

Without communal eating, no human group can hold together…Make the common meal a regular event. The lunch can become an event; a gathering; something that each of us put our love and energy into on our day to cook.

Have you read A Pattern Language with kitchens in mind? This is just a snippet of some really good stuff. I’m so invigorated by it that I’m beginning a rereading now!

Find the book: A Pattern Language at your indie bookstore, local library, or at Amazon.

(Image: via Apartment Therapy)

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