A lot of people ask us about the triangle theory when it comes to the layout of a kitchen. While some of its principals are still relevant, the theory was developed in the 1940s so a few things have changed since then! The University of Illinois School of Architecture developed the kitchen work triangle as part of a design study back in post-war 1940s. Kitchens in the 40s were based around large appliances, minimal work space and the idea that the kitchen was a work room to be closed off from the rest of the house. They were designed with the idea that one person (usually the maid or house wife) would work in them at a time so they could move from one station to another without interruption, hence the triangle. Kitchens now are very rarely private rooms but rather part of a larger, open space that usually includes the dining and lounge or family rooms. They are now a show piece, beautiful to look at and touch, something that makes a statement and draws your attention. They are communal spaces where a family will come together and more than one person is usually cooking at a time.
The original kitchen work triangle theory was designed to create an easy flow from one work station to another. The main work stations include the sink, the fridge and the stove/oven. The space between each station is ideally between 1.2 metres and 2.7 metres with overall distance between 4 metres and 7.9 metres. Anything smaller will make it hard to work in and anything bigger means there are too many steps between each movement which makes it feel disjointed. No major pathways should pass through the triangle which is why this theory worked well when a kitchen was a private room.
With the technology that’s available for inside kitchens these days, the way we now live in our homes and the way food is prepared, the need for the work triangle has changed. It’s still generally a good concept however it’s not something that should be strictly adhered to. At the end of the day, efficiency has to be the priority; lifestyle has to be the priority. Kitchens now fulfil many functions including entertainment, homework, eating (which used to be done in the dining room), etc. We even cook differently than we used to which means where and what we store has even changed. The hardware technology that’s available now means that a lot of the general pantry items can be stored in the kitchen space where you would actually use them which, in turn, changes the purpose of the pantry. For example, the spices, herbs, oils and sauces can be stored beside the cooktop.
With all of these thoughts on the table, it’s clear to see that while the triangle concept is still helpful, it can’t be the main focus. A practical kitchen that works in the space, for its user, is the most important thing. Our designers know how vital all these elements are and work to create a kitchen that functions to perfection.