Dining in the Urban


SqW:Lab were thrilled to be one of three winning entries contributing to the research project The Intimate City in partnership with the Dept. of Architecture, TU Delft.

“The Table itself is a conglomerating of individual dining units linked together with the intention to synchronise public and personal acts.”

The late 1800’s saw a proliferation of Household manuals aimed at describing housekeeping, cooking and dining practices for the Victorian and Edwardian Households, and with the Empire to British colonies in the rest of the world. Whilst books such as Mrs. Beeton’s book of household management (1861), Hints on Household Taste by C.L Eastlake (1878), and The house-keeper’s Pocket Book by Mrs Sarah Harrison (1748) may not be a record of how life was actually lived, they did, in the words of Dena Attar, ‘promote the ideal pattern of middle-class life’; these books ‘prescribed rather than portrayed styles of living’. 200 years on, not only have we adapted these prescribed practices but have ritualised them into everyday applications performed without a second thought. Of these, rituals of the dining table are most evident. Table arrangements are enshrined and its objects, such as plates, severing utensils and centre pieces are revered as heirlooms, reection of taste, pride possessions and above all as cultural markers.

This research reects upon Household Manuals from the 1800 and 1900 to document the ways in which we eat in the 21st century with particular attention to dinner wares and table arrangement. The aim to create a drawn record that stylistically mimics historic Household Manuals and permits us to catalogue and observe transformations and cross-cultural influences within current dining practices.

This project invites individuals from the neighbourhood of Mother Teresa Park to bring along a dining object from their homes to create an installation on the proposed Urban table. The Table itself is a conglomerating of individual dining units linked together with the intention to synchronise public and personal acts. The linked structures compel close proximity, whilst permitting a myriad of table arrangements: from individual dining to family gatherings, to those that mirror cabaret halls and even be arranged akin to large Ball rooms, to name a few.

Together the temporary installation of dinner wares and the more permanent Urban table juxtapose the intimate act of dining with that of public spaces, simultaneously creating a conversational centre piece and a congregational space. The project is aimed at sanctioning an encounter of strangers or other with an act usually performed with kin, thereby opening up cross cultural dialogues and conversation that bisect class, colour and creed.

Furthermore, the catalogue created and the urban table is intended as a study of shared domestic materiality and common practices that are usually understood as disparaging peculiarities. Using dining practices as a sampler of embedded social enactments and commonalities, the project allows us to observe shifts within domestic practices, whilst reassessing spatial organisation of domestic space.

Read more about the competition here >>

%d bloggers like this: