Toilets are an essential part of any building where humans are- whether it’s a work or social space. Using them is something we all have to do, several times a day.
A new research project- Around the Toilet- maintains that for, building designers and operators, it is nigh on impossible to address the needs of everyone, in a “one size fits all” core design. This is because of issues such as gender, disability, culture and religion. To help address the issue, it has gone as far as developing a raft of templates to address specific scenarios, specific locations.
However, is it more a case of we need to change our thinking as to how we provide toilet accommodation in buildings in the first instance?
There is a notion that first we provide male, female, baby change, and accessible toilets. There is a proviso in the Building Regulations that, where space is limited, the minimum provision should be a unisex wheelchair-accessible toilet.
It is not too difficult to enhance that minimum specification, that minimum requirement, to encompass, in one toilet space, a facility that meets the majority of needs. All it needs is a little more space- in fact, just 3.5m2- to accommodate an adult-sized changing bench and hoist. That simple addition addresses disability and gender issues. It provides baby change, whether mum or dad changing their son or daughter- or taking them to the toilet.
And if the WC is replaced with a wash & dry (shower) toilet, as noted to be of benefit under latest British Standards (BS8300:2013), not only are certain disabilities accommodated, but also the majority of the cultural and religious considerations.
It’s about the closest we can come, comparatively easily, to offering a genuinely inclusive, accessible toilet.
Is this our ‘one size fits all’ in toilets?