Within student accommodation the kitchen and dining space is one of the main areas for socialising and is subject to high levels of usage as well as wear and tear. Bob Andrew explains what to look for when specifying kitchens for this type of environment.
The student accommodation market within the UK is a large business, with more than £5.8bn invested in the sector last year. As such, luxury student accommodation developments are increasing across the country, offering hotel-type rooms with TVs and ensuite bathrooms.
In both shared accommodation and studio apartments, the kitchen and dining area is essential for students to prepare food as well as providing an area to socialise and relax. There is an increasing societal push to educate children and students on the importance of nutrition as part of a healthy lifestyle. Various UK initiatives encourage students to learn the art of cooking as to achieve a healthier diet. These patterns further reiterate the importance of the kitchen area in modern day student life. When specifying a kitchen for student accommodation, there are several important factors to consider.
By combining the food preparation and living area, a relatively small space needs to be able to provide a multitude of functions. With space at a premium, a fully fitted kitchen can occupy a considerable area that could be better utilised. By exploiting the available space and arranging appliances in a space efficient method, neither space nor kitchen functionality need to be compromised.
As these spaces can often be confined and project timelines squeezed, a kitchen that can simply fit into an existing alcove without requiring a difficult and lengthy installation process is ideal.
As a communal amenity, the specified kitchen must not only be able to withstand the knocks and bumps associated with student living, but also cope with high frequency use. Within purposely-built student accommodation, a single kitchen unit is typically shared by between four and eight students, with each student often cooking separately. Reliability and warrantees are therefore of significant importance.
Safety features are also important. The main influencer in this is whether the cooker and hob is gas or electric. As this can mean regular Gas Safe checks are required or the inclusion of a safety cut off timer and fire suppression system.
A compact, hardwearing durable kitchen with built in safety measures, like a shut off timer, offers the ideal solution, such as an Elfin Kitchen. Starting from just 900mm wide, Elfin mini kitchens are compact pre-built units that incorporate all the functionality of a fully fitted kitchen in a fraction of the space. As the kitchens are pre-built, once delivered to site the unit only requires its pipes and appliances to be plugged in before its ready to use.
140 all-in-one compact mini kitchens were recently installed at iQ Bloomsbury in central London. Manufactured from hardwearing, powder-coated steel, the kitchens incorporate branded appliances such as an Elica cooker hood, Zanussia oven and Gorenje induction hob, Leibher A-rated fridge freezer, with the high specification kitchen also including a Bomann dishwasher.
Nicola Paul, tp bennett interior designer says: “The white and stainless steel finish of the Elfin kitchens suited perfectly the industrial interior design scheme, which features a grey colour palette interspersed with metallic finishes. They also offered the high specification finish we were seeking for the development.
“With space at a premium, being able to provide cooking, cooling and storage facilities, in a sleek modular kitchen unit is a huge advantage. From a CAD design perspective too, the ‘drop-in, plug-in’ format of these kitchens eases the design, specification and scheduling processes considerably.”
As a high occupancy development, a patented fire suppression system was also incorporated under the cooker hood for added safety, which activates and releases across the protected area when required. The powder coated steel kitchen only requires warm soapy water and a soft cloth to keep it looking clean and new. Also, as a pre-built unit, each appliance can be easily replaced or extensions added, such as splash backs, wall cupboards or extended worktops.
In such applications, selecting a kitchen based on the space it will occupy, its durability and safety features is paramount to ensure that not only the student residents will have a safe area to socialise in, but also that the kitchen will withstand the student lifestyle.
Bob Andrew is managing director of Elfin Kitchens.