Analysis of kitchen design to include universal design

Stylised drawing of a kitchen, somewhat 1950s style with pink and blue colours. Analysis of kitchen design to include UD features.Australian developers claim apartment living is the top choice for downsizing to a home with level entry. However, level entry into the home is only one universal design feature. When it’s time to upgrade the kitchen, this this is also the time to include universal design features. 

While apartments usually provide a level entry, the internal design of the dwelling may not support people as they age. Apartment kitchen design is an important consideration and is tackled in an article from Korea. Wheelchair circulation spaces are the key element which means the designs suit other mobility devices. 

The title of the article is, Application of Universal Design in the Design of Apartment Kitchens. The article includes several drawings of different sized kitchen layouts based on the analysis of user reach range and other capabilities. Technical specifications are included. 

The authors note that the need for specialised housing designs for people with specific limitations are still needed: “But a better alternative is to make common housing more accessible, usable, and universal for the highest number of people with varied capabilities”.


The purpose of this study is to suggest designs for apartment kitchens without major redesign for the elderly or the disabled, who are a fast growing population in Korea. According to the concept of universal design and the need to support various users as much as possible, five criteria for analysis were developed based on research on the mobility of wheelchair users: clear floor space, work flow, universal reach range, area for later use, and safety. Using the criteria developed, the accessibility and usability of five kitchen subtypes were investigated through the analysis of architectural documents.

The result shows that kitchen layouts in Korean apartments are typically difficult to navigate for wheelchair users. Modification of the locations of the refrigerator, sink, and range was mainly required for appropriate clear floor space, work triangle, and countertops. Moreover, alternatives to five unit types were suggested without the need to increase the current kitchen size. For application of universal design to kitchen design, considerations for not only the size, the shape of the kitchen and its appliances but also for clear floor space, work triangle, countertop, reach range, and knee clearance formed by the location of each appliance are required.

KY Kang and KH Lee, Journal of Asian Architecture and Building Engineering.

Also see the short article on Useable Kitchen Design from Lifemark in New Zealand.

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