The Universal Kitchen Project

Excerpt from Design Details for Health
By Cynthia A. Leibrock

The Rhode Island School of Design has restructured kitchen standards and developed prototype kitchens which adjust to meet the needs of a full range of users. Time motion studies revealed that over 400 steps were needed to prepare a simple dinner in a standard kitchen; these steps could be greatly reduced by design. Instead of an inter-related work triangle, three separate major work areas were identified: the food preparation area, the cleaning area, and the snack area. The research also identified a comfort zone on the counter top the zone is 16-in to 18-in deep.

Two smaller refrigerators are placed is this zone, one in the food preparation area and one in the snack area. This is one example of the need for redundancy throughout the kitchen, reducing the reach mobility, and time required for each task. The research also identified a need for seating in the food preparation area, communication problems, and environmental concerns. One kitchen recycles grey water through a waste channel. A continuous wet surface drains into this channel, encouraging a clean-as-you-go work style.

Three kitchens were developed including a stand alone mini-kitchen (left) which is perfect for dormitories, hotels, assisted living, and independent living models. The cabinets unfold to reveal a standard kitchen which contains everything needed to make a moderately complex meal for two. Appliances components are interchangeable with storage components, and the disappearing doors on both do not sweep over the countertop.

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