Would You Live in an Apartment Without an Oven?

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It is evidently big news in Toronto that condos are being sold without ovens, but it shouldn't surprise anyone.

In New York City, at least according to Carrie Bradshaw of Sex and the City, people use their ovens as closets.

In Toronto, citizens are apparently shocked that small condominiums like Minto's new Westside would be sold without without built-in ovens. According to the Toronto Star, some think it is a "disturbing trend." According to Debbie Field of the Coalition for Healthy School Fund:

Just the other day, I watched dozens of UberEats, pizza and other delivery riders outside my building with my partner. It’s so horrible for you not just financially, but also healthwise to always eat out in the long term... At the end of the day, people do come back to enjoying the joys of cooking and they’ll find themselves missing that.

I am not so sure. First of all, the kitchen does have an oven of sorts, a combo microwave/ convection oven that will do most things outside of the Christmas turkey.


Then there is the fact that developers have been doing this for years; five years ago we showed the Smart House condominium in Toronto, where TreeHugger founder Graham Hill was a consultant on small-space living, and it came with a two-burner induction range along with a microwave-convection oven.

condo kitchen without oven
Lloyd Alter / CC BY 2.0

In New York City we followed the development of the modular Carmel Place and it didn't have ovens. This was covered in the New York Times by Penelope Green:

“If groovy millennials are all about cooking and Instagramming the vegan cheesecakes they are making,” she said later, “how do you live that life with a two-burner stove?” Feh, countered Julia, another of my colleagues. Very few people living alone use their whole stove for cooking or fill their full-size refrigerators, she said. “Many of them use their ovens to store shoes or sweaters.”

But perhaps most importantly, most people aren't really cooking much anymore. Professor Murtaza Haider of Ryerson University (where I teach) tells the Star that we are "moving toward an app-driven society where SkipTheDishes is the new norm and there’s no need to cook." I have noted before that over the last fifty years we have outsourced our cooking – first to frozen and prepared foods, then to fresh prepared foods that you buy in the supermarket, and now trending to online ordering and 'dark kitchens.' In most homes, the kitchen has evolved from a place where you cook to a place where people just do the warming. I have quoted consultant Eddie Yoon, who suggests that having a kitchen is akin to having a sewing machine:

I’ve come to think of cooking as being similar to sewing. As recently as the early 20th century, many people sewed their own clothing. Today the vast majority of Americans buy clothing made by someone else; the tiny minority who still buy fabric and raw materials do it mainly as a hobby.
1959 ... can't stop cooking!
James Vaughan / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Of course, many people love to cook, many cook because it is cheaper and probably healthier, and many of those can do it quite handily without a full oven. But how many people in small apartments actually do this anymore? I am wondering why this is such big news, and ask, would you buy a condo without a conventional oven?