What is a Work Zone?

What is a Work Zone?

One of the current design trends in kitchens is the concept of a work zone.  This is more of an evolution in kitchen design that has been a result of trends and necessity.  The work triangle history page discussed a backdrop against which the design principles were developed.

Today, often there is more than one cook in the kitchen.  Dishwashers and microwaves are considered to be standard appliances.  Designing a kitchen to accommodate multiple waste baskets for recycling is becoming a standard practice.  Professional cook tops and double ovens are common in larger kitchens.  Clients are asking for other design features such as refrigerator drawers, sinks in their island, and places where children can participate in meal preparation.

And the size of the kitchen has grown to allow for all these new design features and appliance choices.

To adapt to these design needs, many kitchens are being designed with work zones instead of work triangles.  A Work Zone (or work cell as they are referred to in industrial environments) is a grouping of equipment and resources to produce a product.  What this means for a kitchen design is that the work is broken down by the task being performed instead of the location of the appliances.

Some common kitchen work zones (or functions) include food preparation, cooking, clean up, baking, and eating which, after all, is what a kitchen is all about.  Zones can be combined or located next to each other when appropriate – for instance, often the food preparation and clean up zone are located adjacent to one another.

What makes this different from a work triangle design is that the zones are relatively self contained with storage and appliances grouped together.  A baking zone would have the cookie sheets and casserole dishes stored near the ovens.  A section of counter top would be lowered for rolling out pie dough pie dough and there might be storage for an upright mixer.

A cooking work zone would have the cook top (or range) and would have adequate counter top space for setting down hot pots.  The zone’s design would have storage for spices, pots, and cooking utensils.

The focus for a zone based kitchen is to design self contained spaces for various kitchen tasks.  Traffic patterns can be simplified.  More people can work in the kitchen at one time.  Just as efficiency was original driving force was behind the work triangle design principles, the work zone design philosophy brings efficiency to the modern kitchen.