Universal Design – KBDA 2017 Gold Winner

by Diana Cleveland

Easy Access

Mike Brown and Aileen Salva Brown , Paragon Kitchens, Guelph, ON, Canada

One of the challenges of designing a space for someone with a disability is that the space often must consider not just the client’s current needs, but also how their needs will evolve – especially true when the client battles a condition that’s progressive.

In this kitchen, designed by Mike Brown of the Ontario, Canada-based Paragon Kitchens in conjunction with co-designer Aileen Salva Brown, the goal was to provide a more accessible space for a client who uses a walker and a motorized scooter, with design and accessibility considerations that would work for both the client’s present and future needs.

One of the key challenges was the need for generous walkways, despite the relatively small square footage of the kitchen area. The designers addressed this by minimizing excess cabinetry that might impede floor space. Maximizing storage, and ensuring it would be both accessible and efficient, was another challenge. And, of course, it was important for the space to be aesthetically pleasing rather than sparse or incomplete, as some spaces can be when designed with accessibility as a priority.

Universal Design elements include a 24″ Gaggenau wall oven with a side swing door, installed at a lower height to be accessible from a seated position; a Blanco Silgranit Undermount Double Bowl Sink in Café with no cabinetry underneath (shallow enough to prevent knees from bumping it), and Miralis European Laminate “Thunder” cabinetry, kept to the perimeter walls, with drawers and roll-outs to minimize reaching.

To prevent the space from looking too spare, a mix of textures and sheens was incorporated to add warmth and interest, while durable, easy-care surfaces hide wheelchair dings and scratches and simplify clean up.

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