Come to the Table

Creating an Environment that is Equal Parts Education and Appetite
Architecture Thesis 2012

I am fascinated by how people all over the world regard food. It is a work of art in France. It is an escape in Italy. A form of entertainment in Spain. And in the United States food is a way of making money. For my bachelor thesis project I researched and wrestled with the American food culture and how architecture can be used to educate and reconnect us with the origins of our food. I explored architectural elements such as the sense of place, materiality, and artistic expression as they relate to our culinary experience, in a dining setting but also in the field.

The program I chose for exploring this issue is an agritourism, a working farm which provides hospitality and meals to visitors who have a passion for food. The site is located in the countryside of San Luis Obispo on a former Swiss dairy farm, with two wooden barns that are no longer in use. These two barns became the catalyst for the agritourism, places with a story and the ideal setting for a modern kitchen and farm growing typical California crops. The main barn was renovated into central cooking space with reception, dining areas, and 4 guest rooms and four guest houses are scattered throughout the property. The site is connected by a series of meandering paths, allowing visitors to explore the land on their own and learn about the food as they see it growing around them. Architecture is the thread which weaves together people, the land, and culinary experience.

Each of the guest rooms are designed to engage one of the five senses while simultaneously highlighting a type of food produced on the farm. The rooms were strategically placed in areas with one kind of crop and architecture is used to frame the themes of each one. The herbal room, for example, plays with the olfactory sense and is situated amidst rosemary, basil, and sage plants used for preparing meals. The other three are the Citrus, Orchard, and Green rooms.