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Thursday, March 29, 2012

NKBA Guideline #3 - The Distance Between

In this installment of Design Tips, we're going to look at  NKBA Guideline #3. You may have already had a peak at the pictures below and thought "It's the Kitchen Triangle!!" ... and you'd be right, mostly.

The concept of the kitchen triangle was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1944, not so much with the cook in mind but as a means to standardize design and thus reduce cost. This doesn't make the Triangle a bad thing.  In fact the Triangle is an excellent place to start when designing an efficient kitchen.  But it's not the only way, and that's an important concept to keep in mind.  Your designer may create a kitchen for you that employs the Triangle, but also adds to it.

Guideline #3 is really about the workspaces in the kitchen and how they relate to each other.  In a kitchen with three work areas for example (sink, stove, fridge), the total distance between each work centre should total no more than 26 feet (9.5 metres).  Furthermore, no single distance should be less than 4 feet (1.47 metres) and no longer than 9 feet (2.74 metres).

So what about a kitchen that has more than three work centres?  What about the coffee machine?  The deep fryer or grill?  How about that second sink on the island with the extra dishwasher?  Pretty soon that triangle is starting to look like a trapezoid or hexagon. 

Relax.  The same rules still apply.  What's important here is not the shape, but the proximity of each work centre to the other.  Sometimes you may have two work centres you use together all the time ... a coffee maker and a beverage fridge (for cream, Irish or otherwise).  You'll never get 2 work centres to make a triangle, but if the two items are further apart than 9 feet ... even 4 feet ... you're going to need running to shoes for all the travelling you'll do!

Another hiccup in this rule comes when you introduce and island into the equation.  As you'll see in the drawing on the left, one of the legs of our triangle gets interupted by the island.  Think about running between the cooktop and the fridge and imagine how bruised your hip could get.

In a perfect world that island should cut into the path no more than 12" (30.5 cm).  However, it should be noted that avoiding this situation is not always possible.  We try, really we do.  But sometimes you just run out of room to work, or moving the cooktop towards the left side of the island (the simplest solution) will break some other guidelines we haven't addressed yet.  There's a lot going on in your kitchen and sometimes something's got to give. 

Illustrations (C) NKBA.org

4 comments:

  1. I have always thought the work triangle was way over simplified. The appliances are important, but work space is equally important... Are you going to address the "other guidelines" soon?

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  2. If you click on the NKBA category over there on the right you'll see the other guidelines I've addressed.  Others will follow soon ... usually once a month.  Any one in particular you're interested in?

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  3. Do the NKBA guidelines cover appliance panels? I always have trouble understanding spec sheets for Sub Zero applied panels.

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  4. Not specifically Justin.  The guidelines apply insofar as clearances are concerned, but not as to how the panels are applied.  Every manufacturer has its own set of standards ... and I agree it can be confusing.  Experience is a wonderful teacher, as are the appliance reps.  Sub Zero in particular is very good at helping out designers with the details.  I'd contact your local SZ rep and get the low-down from them.

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