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The Edinburgh Kitchen

Part 1 Project 2009
Jack Sharp
University of Edinburgh Edinburgh UK
This project attempted to address many of the current issues associated with social housing. It resulted in the development of a small apartment block, consisting of 5 studio flats that would provide affordable city centre accommodation for single occupancy. This objective was achieved by regenerating an unused site within central Edinburgh. This allowed affordable housing to weave amongst a gentrified area of the city, aiming to stop the ostracizing of affordable housing. I believe this to be highly important in providing diversity within a community. I also strongly believe in the benefits of regeneration, not only because it allows an interesting interaction with existing buildings, but it is also critical in our ambitions to be sustainable and reduce our environmental impact.

The project also focused on the interaction between the inhabitants and their surrounding environment. This was achieved through placing the kitchen at the forefront of the design, as part of the boundary between public and private space, making the performance of the kitchen part of the façade. I believe this innovation would provide an architectural enhancement to the site while increasing interaction amongst the community.

Jack Sharp

The kitchen has become a site of intersection between bespoke design and the pragmatics of everyday use. Kitchen design currently hovers somewhere between luxury product design, service infrastructure solution, and dream, yet is a significant site of cultural and technological negotiation- from urban food politics to social-political home economics, to domestic ritual and value- a site of conspicuous and inconspicuous consumption.

The studio brief (for 6 housing units in Edinburgh’s Old Town) was to explore this rich domain, to contextualise a history of kitchens and kitchen design, in order to propose future spatial translations of ‘kitchen’- as an idea, as a material manifestation, and as a catalyst for the arrangement of wider domestic and urban spatial sequences. Jack’s response included investigations into the ‘performing kitchen’, the knowing choreography of an individual cooking and being watched. Influenced by de Koninck’s 1930 CUBEX kitchen, his design approach was to intensify the cooking-eating parts of the proposed apartments as an intricate performing ‘hub’/ ‘heart’ counterpoised against the remaining more distilled spaces. The grouping of the apartments, with service access consolidated to the north, situates the ‘kitchen’ elements as animators of the building presented to the route through the close behind the Royal Mile.

Suzanne Ewing


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