Kitchen areas (non-commercial)

Where kitchen facilities are provided, all building users should have an equal opportunity to prepare their own food and drink.

The design of non-commercial kitchens in buildings where they are provided should allow all occupants to conveniently prepare food and drink.

While domestic kitchens can be designed and constructed to meet specific user requirements, kitchens in public buildings need to meet a cross-section of needs.

Where more than one kitchen is present in a building, designing them with opposite layouts (handing/mirroring) will allow for the maximum of flexibility for users of different capabilities.

Open plan areas allow all users to move between kitchen and dining facilities without needing to negotiate doors.

The extent of clear space below a work surface affects the reach of wheelchair users.

Cupboard doors that do not open to 180 degrees can cause an obstruction when left open. Handles that are well contrasted and easy to use will make opening the cupboards easy for everyone.

Cupboards that will open when pushed are an advantage.

Continuous work surfaces allow for the sliding of objects when they cannot be carried.

The required height of surfaces and equipment is dependent upon whether the user is standing or seated. The installation of an adjustable height work surface would give the greatest flexibility.

Pull out shelves should be suitable for people with limited grip.

Lever action taps are able to be used by everyone, even those with limited dexterity.

Contrasting colours for bench tops, sinks, cupboards, walls, floors, sockets, and appliance controls improves access for those who have low vision. Shiny surfaces that cause glare and sources of light should not be in the visual field.

Appliance choices should consider all users. Those with vision impairment rely on tactile, visual and auditory information. Touch control panels and digital displays are not suitable for everyone to use.

Ensure lighting levels are sufficient for the tasks to be undertaken. Additional task lighting over bench surfaces benefits all users. Shadows in task areas should be avoided.

Design considerations

  • Where more than one kitchen is installed in a building, design them with opposite layouts (handing/mirroring).
  • Consider open plan kitchen and dining layouts to avoid the use of doors.
  • Provide unobstructed floor space between facing units to allow a wheelchair user to turn around.
  • Where possible, provide unobstructed space below work surfaces to one side of kitchen appliances, and below or adjacent to key task areas.
  • Fit cupboards with doors that will open to 180 degrees with handles that ae well contrasted and easy to use.
  • Consider the installation of cupboards that open when pushed.
  • Ensure work surfaces are continuous and designed to minimise travel.
  • Bench heights set at the standard domestic kitchen height are practical for a wheelchair user for most purposes. However, provide lower level slide out working surfaces for food preparation
  • Fit sinks with lever action taps.
  • Ensure surfaces such as bench tops, sinks, cupboards, walls, and floors are contrasting.
  • Select appliances that have tactile not touch screen controls (knobs and switches) and mount them where they are accessible to everyone.
  • Appliances should be positioned to provide access for standing and seated users.
  • Ensure contrasting power sockets are provided above work surfaces and within reach of wheelchair users.
  • Ensure appliance doors open in a direction that enables easy transfer of cooking dishes to bench tops.
  • Locate microwaves at bench height so hot liquids are not a hazard for wheelchair users.

Building Code requirement

Building Code clause G3 Food preparation and prevention of contamination:

G3.3.1 Food preparation facilities shall be hygienic and include: (a) space for a refrigerator, or a perishable food storage area capable of being cooled and protected from vermin and insects, (b) means for food rinsing, utensil washing and waste water disposal, Performance G3.3.1(a) and (b) shall apply to housing, work camps, old people’s homes, early childhood centres and commercial or industrial buildings whose intended uses include the handling of perishable food.

G3.3.5 Where facilities are provided for people with disabilities they shall be accessible. Performance G3.3.5 shall apply only to camping grounds and accessible accommodation units in communal residential buildings.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: