Student: Jennifer Phan
Advisor: Alberto Pérez-Gómez
Studio: Directed Research Project
Year/Term: Fall 2016
Last year revealed a stunning reality about our eating patterns : almost half of our meals are eaten alone and a fifth are eaten in a vehicle. These tendencies have only been on the rise for the past 20 years and it is fair to say that this thesis has arisen from a concern for the progressive decline of commensality in North America, and for the greater implications that it has on our health, our well-being and the quality of our social lives in cities. As an architect, it is my duty to investigate the spatial implications of eating, building on the basic assumption that the space in which you eat shapes the experience of a meal. If you are what you eat, then you are also who you eat with, where you eat and how you eat.
By using the word commensality, defined as the ‘act of eating together’, I am too, considering the meal as a mainly social and affective endeavour. Commensality moves the idea of a meal beyond physiological necessities, and towards necessities of pleasure and communion.
The thesis Tales of a Table celebrates the possibility of creating urban public hearths, embodied somewhere between the building, the table and the utensil. It seeks architectural and culinary solutions for eating together, in the context of Canada’s hyper-multicultural culinary heritage.