How do you design an ergonomic kitchen?
Designing an ergonomic kitchen means first optimising how the elements of the kitchen are placed, considering the right distances and having rational spaces for easy movement. To do this, it is best to design functional areas that will then be arranged rationally, to reduce pointless, unnatural movements, which can also be irritating in the long term.
There are five main areas of activity in a kitchen to consider: washing, cooking, prepping, utensils and storage. A study on movements in the kitchen has shown that if these activities are placed logically, a considerable amount of pointless movements can be avoided.
The work triangle
Since the 1950s, studies on efficiency have increasingly honed the concept of ergonomics in the kitchen, optimally arranging areas into a “work triangle”, where the three points of the triangle correspond to the three main areas (sink/fridge/cooker): the overall distance recommended (adding the three sides of the triangle together) is 6 metres, with two points at least 90 cm apart.
How to design an ergonomic: linear kitchen.
A “linear” arrangement runs along a single wall. To design an ergonomic, linear kitchen, you first need to decide on the main work areas (storage, washing, cooking, prepping), and arrange them in a sequence. You should keep a space between the cooking area (i.e. the hob) and washing area (i.e. the sink) for prepping dishes.
You should also put the dishwasher next to the sink (preferably on the right if you are right-handed, or on the left if you are left-handed). If you have room, you can have a tall built-in wall oven and/or microwave unit, or a high base unit for easier access.
How to design an ergonomic, L-shaped kitchen
The L-shaped kitchen runs along two adjacent walls (or alternatively has a work unit or side unit perpendicular to a wall). This solution is highly flexible and very effective at making the most of space.
The sink, fridge and hob should be placed quite close together, to avoid excessive movements between these work areas. The food prepping area should preferably be between the hob and sink. An ideal solution for designing an ergonomic kitchen is to have the sink and fridge along the same wall and hob along another wall, with the space between the two areas for prepping dishes.
Solutions with racks and other equipment can be included in L-shaped kitchens, to make the best use of corner areas and access hard-to-reach areas more easily.
N.B.: Before designing the fittings for an L-shaped kitchen, check the angles of the corner!
Designing a kitchen with island
To design an ergonomic kitchen with island, you need lots of space and, if the island includes elements such as hob or sink, a quite detailed design is required in terms of both the electrics and the plumbing.
It should be remembered that the island needs a surrounding area of about 120 cm: this space allows people to move and doors to be opened (if there are other elements between island and wall, a space equivalent to their depth needs to be added to the 120 cm).
Designing an horse-shoe shape kitchen
This solution can be interpreted as a L shaped kitchen or a kitchen with three sides, each with a working area. Its design follows the same principles of the L shaped kitchen, considering the tall unit all together along one side of the kitchen itself. The central part should measure 2 mt to ensure enough space while working. The working area should be positioned not too far away on each side of the kitchen.
This type ok kitchen develops on two facing walls. It can be organized as a linear kitchen facing tall units; it can be planned as a island kitchen, placing the washing area facing the cooking area on the other side; or one of the wall can be designed as an extra working area or for stowings. Make sure to consider at least 120 cm as walking area between the two walls.
Minimum distance to be considered
To design an ergonomic kitchen, the minimum distances between items in the room, such as the table and chairs, also need to be considered:
● if you position the table 120 cm from the work surface, the person cooking can easily pass by, even when somebody is sitting at the table;
● positioning the table 135 cm from the cooker, a person can cook or open unit doors and drawers even if another person is sitting down;
● if you place items at least 100 cm from the dishwasher, you can load and unload it.