Open-plan or closed kitchens?

Recommendation 50

Chapter (theme)
Architectural spaces (kitchens)

Because of
sensory issues, Central coherence

In order to
make an informed choice between an open and closed kitchen.

As explained in the theme ‘kitchens’, this space poses exceptionally high demands on many senses and also on bodily and cognitive functioning. People with autism who respond well to these challenges are richly rewarded, those who don’t will experience considerable disadvantages in daily life because of it. For these reasons it is crucial that optimal conditions are created through the interior design, the choice and installation of machinery and appliances and its construction, which is at issue here.

Since the sixties of the last century people generally prefer open-plan kitchens, i.e. ones in open contact with dining- and/or living rooms. Assuming a specific (future) resident shares this general preference there is no reason not to follow it, unless this person is over-sensitive to kitchen smells or noise, or has difficulty dealing with spaces which have a variety of different functions. (See zoning and the related concept Central coherence.)

In view of the frequency of at least one of these problem areas among people on the spectrum we assume this will be an exception and a closed kitchen is the preferred option. (Or, in case the zoning is the main concern, one might choose for an intermediate solution by dividing the open kitchen by pieces of furniture such as cupboards.)
Especially if the future resident is unknown or if the property (such as in an independent living project) will be used by a subsequent resident, the advice is to choose for a closed kitchen.

general preference

Undoubtedly as a consequence of the democratization process: no kitchen staff anymore, nor housewives working invisibly in the background. Audrey Brashich mentions this aspect too in her article ‘I Hate the Open-Plan Kitchen—and Amazingly, I’m No Longer the Only One’, In:, June 3, 2015. Here.