Archive for October, 2010
Could unisex toilets be the way forward?
The plan above shows accessible toilets, child toilets and a range of male & female loos. Some of these could be unisex, others could be reserved for women only or men only. (It also shows a sink in the middle and hand driers to the right. I think the spiky things are plants :) )
The main distinctions are the unisex hand-washing area and the lack of urinals.
The inspiration for this design is the problems that men and women have when caring for people of the opposite sex. This refers to all types of care, including mums and dads looking after their children. At what age do you start letting them go into the loos alone?
Public toilets are often called ‘The last gendered space’. Do we need this division of the sexes on top of the privacy of the cubicle?
Are there other advantages to sharing facilities, or would you feel more uncomfortable knowing that someone of the opposite sex was there too?
Would you miss single sex facilities?
Could it work in some cases, but not in others?
Tell me what you think via the comments box at the end, and vote for this idea below!
This idea for improved pedestrian signs doesn’t just show which direction the toilets are in.
They tell the person which facilities are provided, how far they are and how accessible they are.
Would this be useful to you?
Should this information be included on existing signs?
or is it too much detail, unnecessary confusion and expense?
Please vote as to whether I should keep working on it, and leave any thoughts (comments, criticisms, ideas, Anything!) in the comments below. They’re vital to developing better loos for all!
‘Public Toilets and…’ is now nearly a month old and beginning to get hits through Google searches that suggest there are people out there who are interested in knowing more. Here are a couple of personal links for more info:
My supervisor Jo-Anne Bichard’s previous study into public toilets was part of VivaCity 2020, a research consortium that developed tools and resources to support the design of socially inclusive cities.
The outcome of this research was The Accessible Toilet Resource, a valuable document for those involved in public toilet design.
And in the name of shameless self-promotion, my own work into public toilets began with my dissertation, available here as a pdf:
The Public Toilet:A Woman’s Place was written as part of my MA at the Royal College of Art in Industrial Design Engineering.
You’ll have to excuse any bluntness today. Like a lot of my coughing colleagues and commuters I’m coming down with something, made worse by aching legs after some crawling at Budapest Zoo, and blocked ears from the flight back (woe is me!)
It started with a long queue for the ladies at Gatwick Airport.
Airport toilets are generally quite good. They’re large enough to cope with luggage, and this was the second set that I’ve seen recently that have a shelf at the sink for personal belongings (I long for more shelves, I really do, but that’s for another day).
So why, on a not particularly busy Thursday morning at Gatwick was there a 5 minute queue for the Ladies? Or why, more significantly, was there no queue for the Gents?
I started to quiz my somewhat reluctant boyfriend on how many ‘places to pee’ there are in the men’s.
The first restaurant that we tested this in had 1 ladies’ toilet; the men’s had a toilet and a urinal.
“You see! That’s completely unfair. The men have twice as many places to pee as the women do!”
It must have been beginner’s luck when I won a goldfish race at the St John’s Hill Festival, although I did put in the effort (“Come on No. 4!!!”). After claiming my prize, a free meal at Fish Club(!), I left the restaurant, headed to the bus stop and instantly needed the loo.
Having spent the day before marking Wandsworth’s Community Toilets on a map I knew full well that there were 3 businesses on this stretch of road who’s facilities I could have used.
The point of the schemes is that you don’t have to be a customer to use the participant’s toilet facilities. Often people quite logically interpret this as not having to ask to use the loo (since you know the answer’s ‘yes’) but that’s a bit unrealistic in a small italian restaurant – the waitress is going to greet you, so you’re guaranteed some sort of conversation on intent. Not the end of the earth, but enough to make me choose option 4: ‘Wait Until You Get Home’.
I think I’d be happier if I thought that anyone else, ever, had gone into Cantuccio and announced they were just there for the loo.
So here’s my question: Do people use Community Toilet Schemes?
The government wrote guidance on setting up a CTS using Richmond-upon-Thames as their example. Richmond measured the impact of their scheme using their citizen’s panel, and learnt that ‘whilst one in four residents were dissatisfied with traditional public toilets in the Borough, only 6 per cent felt dissatisfied with the Community Toilet Scheme’
My relationship to Open Data is like my relationship to skiiing: no experience, no training, and it shows. In my first attempt through trial-and-error on the baby slope I achieved some sort of forward motion, but an enthusiast would spot immediately that I’m uneducated in the basics.
Despite this I’m willing to persevere with the data, since unlike skiing it has a point.
Unaware of any schools of chiseled austrian programmers that teach aspiring developers what they need to know, I decided that I can’t be alone in beginning this process by googling ‘API’ and Asking Jeeves what xml is. After all the whole point of open data is that it’s available for anyone to use it, but can anyone use it?
It seems feasible to me that untrained people would want to. As a designer (not a web designer, obviously) I know that if you’ve thought of the perfect design solution to your problem then you don’t want a little thing like ‘no basic training’ to stop you from trying to realise it. Creating a personal device? Learn home electronics. Redesigning office furniture? Better head to the workshop. If you don’t ‘have a go’ then your solutions to design problems will be drastically limited by your skill set.
Of course you quickly realise that ‘jack of all trades, master of none’ is not a compliment and find the money to hire a professional, but you still need to prove to yourself that your idea is feasible before spending money you don’t have .
In this case, my amateur method of learning-by-googling wouldn’t yield any results if it wasn’t for others who ‘show their workings’. So in the interests of sharing, this is my account of how (not) to make a Google Map.
I was using data on Wandsworth’s public toilets in the perfectly common and respectible format of .csv (it must be, since I’ve heard of it), which can be opened in Excel.