Our proposal explores a critical approach to the brief of ‘Kitchen meets the Workplace’ in order to challenge the paradigm of the ‘consummate’ workplace, with a view to shifting towards a choice-enabling, cooperative initiative.
A cynical view of the current trend for companies to offer the have-it-all lifestyle at work reveals the slow and sly incarceration of the worker in the office, around the clock. By celebrating the kitchen and food offer within the workplace (perhaps with gym, retail, recreation and relaxation spaces thrown in), to an extent whereby an incorporated and omnipresent work, social and gastronomic hub overrides any excuse to leave the office. We risk allowing companies to manipulate and brainwash their employees through subterfuge disguised as lifestyle benefits.
This dystopic dolce vita at its worst disregards any opportunity to integrate with the wider community. It forces networking business interactions between colleagues even in break periods and forbids ones’ personal life beyond the all-hours cage of the office, ultimately limiting choice, particularly within dense urban environments which have a multitude of existing and potential social/food offers. The forced, all-encompassing routine, teamed with unsustainable energy consumption and shocking quantities of food waste generated by such an all-inclusive offer, highlights the importance of individual choice and the ability to step away from ones’ desk to disconnect from work in the name of honest wellbeing. The real vision for the future is the workplace relinquishing the puppet strings of their employees’ lives and free time to allow for spontaneity and real freedom.
Our proposition envisages a cooperative kitchen that provides the opportunity for anyone within the local live/work/visitor community to join a volunteer model built around understanding the process of food production and cooking via practical knowledge-sharing activities. Participants can learn, teach or showcase skills in how to cultivate, harvest, sell, cook, consume and compost food together. The dining experience focuses on being outdoors and allowing the verdant benefits of nature to provide as much respite during break or non-work periods to do its magic as does the option for social inclusion and distance-from-desk.
A network of cooperative dining/market/ growing sites across the city allow for casual and incidental interactions which are also voluntary, both via the process of moving between the cooperative site and the workplace or home, and the social participation during activities and meals. For the extant corporate mind-set, Feilden Fowles’ We Cook™ accepts CSR volunteer placements and will look into trading such credits in the near future.