Doing what? Cooking of course! What is the menu and what is the recipe? Cement, sand, granite, tiles timber, pipes, cables, sink, extractor fans, light fittings, doors and windows. Hoping these many ingredients will not spoil the cuisine. Bon appetite! Whether domestic or commercial, the architect’s focus inside the kitchen remains the same i. e. to deliver a functional and beautiful space that will promote the duty or business of cooking great meals. The kitchen can become the most colourful space in a building if and when the architect does a mindful details.
Otherwise the colors will run riot and the psychological impact of this on the person or persons working in the kitchen could be devastating and unfortunately undetectable. The resultant ill health from the impact of uncoordinated colour scheme in the kitchen may partly account for adverse emotion in some homes.
SIZES, SHAPES AND LAYOUT: Sizes of the kitchen varies and will relate to the type of kitchen whether domestic or commercial. Domestic kitchen are usually and advisedly small. The size tends to be larger when a break-fast table is incorporated into the kitchen space. Several ingenius designs of the breakfast table had been seen – sliding, folding, collapsible and fixed; and in different shapes and configuration. The best designs are those that do not sacrifice function and convenience to the fancy of esoteric shapes and forms. A kitchen is best when the items or gadgets housed therein are seamlessly arranged and located. This allows the housekeeper or whosoever works in the kitchen to prepare meal with relative ease devoid of riotous walks inside the kitchen that is a result of less than careful arrangement and layout. Layout should not promote overlapping and zigzag movements while preparing the meals. For instance, the location of the cutting board vis-à-vis the sink should permit the chef to take one or two steps to accomplish the task of cutting and washing items for cooking. Steps taken between tasks should be few and economic. Unknowingly, the person cooking could trek a number of kilometers walking from one part of the kitchen to the other part again and again. The kitchen is the most dynamic space work inside the kitchen could be energy sapping more largely due to the exercise of walking up and down (or to and fro) and less to the rigor of the actual cooking exercise. It is therefore recommended that kitchen should not be too large as a display of affluence because it will be counter productive in terms of energy expended while working therein. Stress of the work in the kitchen could be reduced with compact space and efficient layout. This will encourage working in the kitchen. The kitchen should be made warm and inviting to draw attention away from the energy expended while working in it.
HAZARDS AND ESCAPE: Historically, kitchens were located outside the houses, either in the open or enclosed. The open and isolated kitchen could still be found in rural Africa. Kitchen has over the years become an integral part of the house. As a result of fire hazard, a kitchen should therefore be well designed to minimize the risk of fire out break. In this regard, consider a sand bucket, consider a fire hydrant, but say no to smoke detector. Kitchen by its operation would generate heat; consider air-conditioning or provide an extractor fan. Be careful when connecting your kitchen air-conditioning to a central system as the system could recycle the exhaust air from the kitchen into your bedroom and other area. The window in the kitchen is usually less in height when placed over the sink. A single one in a kitchen will suffice, as you do not want to sacrifice the shelf spaces for a needless window. A sliding window may admit maximum light but it hampers ventilation. The projected window in a kitchen could be near useless, yet some kitchens have them. Side-hung casing window is best for maximum ventilation. Use extractor fan to aid ventilation. A typical kitchen would need two doors for entry and for exiting waste from the kitchen. Doors define circulation space and if not well allocated in a kitchen, a lot of usable space would be wasted on circulation. The romance of kitchen with door is well expressed in a swinging door with viewing panel for efficient operation.
FIXTURES AND FINISHES: On the floors of kitchen, wisdom demands water-proof materials for finishes – tiles, terrazzo, mosaic and marble/granite but the choice must be non-slip to avoid accident. Colour could be a major consideration but it should be chosen with the intention to blend them with the walls, the cabinets and other gadget. A note of warning is that care must be taken at the threshold where materials for floor finish in the kitchen is different from the preceding room. Walls are also tiled with glazed ceramic tiles. The door details must accommodate this to avoid the eyesore of inadequate architraves to the doors of the kitchen. An artwork could be made of the kitchen space with the work-top and the high level cabinet. The options are limitless and the range of materials and combinations could turn the kitchen into sheer entertainment. This is the moment of kitchen’s glory; the dining may steal the show later. Not even the main living nor the dining could enjoy the diversified joinery activities of the kitchen. The kitchen can be a great art if fitted with well-designed cabinets.
SERVICES: The plumbing works can be most frustrating in the kitchen if failure occurs. The best product from pipes to fittings should be installed with maximum skills and excellent workmanship. You do not want a leaking sink in a well-fitted kitchen. The discomfort and the hassle can drive away appetite and promote stress. With hardly noticeable leakage the kitchen could be flooded overnight. It is better to be expensive on the taps, the union connector, the waste trap, the bends and the valves. It is also better to use a competent plumber. The same goes for the gas pipes and air-conditioning pipes. The kitchen is an energy house in more sense than food production. It probably consumes more power than any other parts of the building. The electrical works should be of high quality again both in materials and workmanship. The kitchen is highly prone to fire outbreak from power supply. The power supply to the refrigerating systems, the microwave oven, the hot plate and the oven in the cooker units, the boilers and the heat extractors is the highest in the house. This calls for balanced electrical loading scheme and regular checks and maintenance. Cooking constitutes enough fire hazards and thus no room should be allowed for fire outbreak from the electrical system in the kitchen.
DESERT: The architect must make generous provision for storage. The cold storage system and dry storage should be ample. A lot of drawers for condiments and seasoning; large spaces for bulk items (trying to avoid mentioning names to avoid real whetting of appetite). The kitchen may enjoy an extension into a store or pantry. Where the luxury of space does not permit, the high level cabinets would come in as additional store besides the good appearance. To reach up – provide a stool or a ladder. All the plates, cups and cutleries must be well provided for in terms of storage.
Towel rails, racks for drying utensils must fit into the cabinets and they all must be accessible. Sometimes, the number of people working inside the kitchen goes up – and there must be adequate space to move around each other. The architects must think about the process of cooking in order to deliver a well-made kitchen. After the meals are served and done with everything returns to the kitchen. Plates would be washed and kept for drying – so, when should the sink have double drainer? How about waste disposal? The kitchen has the characteristics of a room with double entry. For other spaces you return the way you enter but for the kitchen, the entry is on the high side – the exit is on the down side for the elimination of waste.
Remember liquid drinks of various types; – their storage, their consumption and the disposal of the unwanted or the wastes.
Stop press: do not discharge the waste waters from the kitchen directly into the septic tank if your plumber has not heard about oil trap.
The kitchen is a place the architects must love to be. Here, he is the unseen guest. He is the original chef of the uncooked meals. Once again, bon appetite!