• Category : Kitchen
  • TOFD

Ayşe Altıner, Arif Can Doğruer, Ali Üyütüren, Fatma Nur Şentürk, Tuğçe Akgün (SCPAT)

Food is one of the most essential needs of people and is an obligatory action for continuing life. Kitchens are places in houses where food is cooked and eaten, where family members come together, and social relations are built. Washing, preparing, and preserving food for cooking and storing the kitchenware, washing them, serving food, and collecting waste are the tasks carried out in kitchens. The layout of standard kitchens is not convenient for individuals who use wheelchairs to perform their actions in the kitchen.

Within the scope of the project, we focused on this problem and worked together with the NGO design partner. Actions taking place in the kitchen are collected in three hardware areas. These are washing, cooking and storage areas, which constitute the working triangle in the kitchen. Action analyses were conducted within the working triangle and it was decided that the standard kitchens were not suitable for the use of individuals with wheelchairs.

Based on the information obtained through interviews with the NGO design partner in the initial stage of our work, and in line with the research outcomes, action analyses were carried out about the use of kitchens. The issues identified are as follows:

  • The changes wheelchair users want to make are not feasible for all kitchens.
  • There is the difficulty of transporting products between the counters in the working triangle,
  • There is a possibility of occurrence of hazardous situations during the transportation of products,
  • There are problems encountered when using sinks and stoves due to lack of space under the counters,
  • There is a lack of proper access distances to storage elements,
  • There is difficulty in approaching surfaces of the counter while working,
  • There are problems in accessing to upper cabinets,
  • The most common problem is that the storage areas in kitchens require excessive physical effort from not only individuals using wheelchairs but also from all users.

Following the research we carried out about kitchen products and space, as well as the results of interviews with the NGO partner, it was decided that the kitchen surroundings should have the basic features mentioned below so that the individuals with wheelchairs will have a more comfortable user experience:
  • The concept of 'inclusive design' should be adopted in the design of kitchens,
  • Wheelchair users must have access to all kitchen units,
  • Care should be taken that the kitchen units to be designed have flexible features that can adapt to all kitchens,
  • The products and spaces to be designed should have aesthetic properties that can be preferred by all individuals.

Proposals for these problems have been developed with support from the NGO design partner in order to produce solutions to the problems identified by the action analysis. In accordance with the recommendations developed, it was decided to design a mobile storage unit that would reduce the problems encountered in kitchens.

A storage unit is designed to increase the accessibility capacity of wheelchair users in kitchens. The designed storage unit has the size of a standard cabinet door and gives the user flexibility to add any number of units to their kitchen. The unit's door can be customised to fit the existing kitchen cabinets' doors to ensure the visual integrity. In addition to the ease of use it offers, the preferred press-on lid handles on the designed kitchen unit prevent accidents such as arm bumps when the lid is closed. The unit is removed by pulling out and, if desired, the working surface can be expanded by opening. In addition to this, a comfortable working position is obtained as the user's legs can easily be placed under the unit. Utensils such as plates, pots, pans, storage containers, etc. can be stored following users' needs in the lower compartment of the designed storage unit. Prepared dishes can be safely moved to the dining table with the help of the unit. With this designed kitchen unit, it is intended for people with disabilities who use wheelchairs to use a non-discriminating product. It is believed that this storage unit developed for residential buildings will support life without disabilities.