A kitchen should always be built around the needs of its users, but it takes a high level of creativity to make sure the space both looks good and is easy to use for those with specific needs…
Ergonomics are important in any kitchen design of course, but perhaps nowhere more so than in a centre for disabled children and young people where the need for well-considered, accessible design is paramount.
Kitchens International was approached by the BBC DIY SoS ‘Children in Need’ programme to see if they could quickly transform the kitchen at The Yard, the only indoor and outdoor adventure play centre for disabled children and young people in the east of Scotland.
KI’s involvement saw it supply a highly accessible kitchen design to suit the specific needs of centre users. The brief was to create a disabled friendly kitchen complete with appliances that would be state-of-the-art for both able bodied and disabled users. The kitchen is a multi-functional area for both food preparation, dining, socialising and entertaining and is in constant use.
The chief designer on the project was Carol Cameron and she wanted to create a multi-use kitchen that was barrier-free. A Callerton Abstract kitchen was chosen and a key element of the design is an island which has dual zones for wheelchair use and which also contains a dining table where people could sit and prepare food and also eat. To achieve this, a special wheelchair access was created on one side of the island. The units are all hard wearing and multipurpose for this type of facility.
Around the walls of the kitchen are units that have easy access. A full sized sink is located on a white painted steel worktop unit that can move up and down almost a metre, either manually or by an electric switch depending on the person using it so a wheelchair user can lower the unit for easy use.
On the same moveable worksurface is a hob, allowing the same ease of access for all heights of users. Similarly, above the sink is a wall unit that moves up and down to allow easy access at whatever height.
Another special feature is the side opening doors on some of the appliances giving easier access for wheelchair users. A wheelchair user has a range of movement of about 630mm so the kitchen had to have access at this height and also allowed for room under the sink for the wheelchair to go into.
The reaction of the users when they saw the new facilities was mind blowing with superlatives flowing as they couldn’t believe their eyes: “Is it real?” and “It’s magical” are just some of the comments. Most of The Yard children and helpers had never seen or used a kitchen so dedicated to their needs, which Cameron says made the whole project even more worthwhile.
The build took ten days with the kitchen just one part of a huge makeover involving over 300 people and which transformed both the building and outdoor play area. Steven Boal, Kitchens International Project Manager, said that although the days were long and the work demanding, it was a humbling experience and very rewarding. He described it as a “fantastic example of how different trades can work together to achieve amazing results”.
The programme, which was aired late last year, showed how the dilapidated buildings at the centre were completely refurbished in a very short time to give disable children a new-look day care centre at no cost to The Yard.
Paul O’Brien, Director at Kitchens International, said: “We spend every day designing and installing amazing kitchens. To give something back like this and to see the enormous benefit of what we have done for a small and vital project makes every other day even more worthwhile. We are delighted to have been involved and thanks to all the team for their efforts.”
Kitchens International | www.kitchensinternational.co.uk
Callerton Kitchens | www.callerton.co.uk