A modular kitchen could help Australian households to live healthier, longer lives.
According to research published in the journal Functional Foods, this could mean better health outcomes, reduced health-care costs and improved productivity.
It would also help Australian companies create better, more efficient products.
“Modular kitchens offer an opportunity to innovate, change and develop more efficient solutions to a variety of health problems,” the report said.
The modular kitchen is designed to work together with a variety and types of materials to create a “complex system” that can be easily installed and removed.
For example, the kitchen could be made of modular bricks, glass panels, aluminium panels, plastic panels, stone or wood.
At the other end of the spectrum, the researchers found modular kitchens could also be used to build a large-scale kitchen or other industrial building, which could allow for more efficient energy use, reducing the need for energy conservation measures and environmental impact.
“Modularity allows a system to be designed to achieve different goals in different ways depending on the types of elements that are used in the design,” Dr Gershenson said.
“For example the kitchen is used for cooking but the parts used for the cooking are also modular.
This allows the kitchen to be made out of materials that are not commonly used.”
The study also looked at the role of modular kitchens in the manufacturing of products.
Dr Gershean said that in the industrial kitchen, the components used in a modular kitchen were often interchangeable.
“There are some very efficient, lightweight, low cost products that are produced with modular kitchen parts,” she said.
This is a key reason why it is so important for people to use modular kitchens as a part of their food production.
“We are often surprised by how much people are doing with modular kitchens because they are so easy to put together and to rearrange,” Dr Gilligan said.
The researchers found that modular kitchens are also very good at recycling materials, which was surprising, because it is generally assumed that when we produce a lot of materials, we will eventually recycle all of them.
“The most common reaction to this idea is that we will just throw them away and they will be just as good as we left them,” Dr McGilvray said.
In an ideal world, the modules could be integrated into the kitchen design, allowing it to be easily assembled and moved around, Dr Gilligan said.
Dr Gilligan is now working with industrial designers to develop an educational toolkit that would allow the public to use the modular kitchen as part of a sustainable lifestyle.