Posts tagged ‘Women’

… User-Centred Design – Urinal Games

An article was published yesterday about a company who are installing games for men to play whilst at the urinal. The game is controlled by peeing.

I’m recoiling already.

Not at the concept. I just hate talking about urinals. I don’t know anything about them. There is no more mysterious public space to a woman than the men’s toilets, and vice-versa (although I have been in the men’s at the RCA once for research purposes and was aghast at how much cleaner they were. What on earth are you all complaining about?)

The BBC’s article about the pee-game is very thorough.

Entitled ‘Toilet gaming technology targets urinal boredom’..

 (‘boredom’? Are people really bored by peeing? I’m very understanding of different views, but if you pee enough to be bored by it, you should probably see a doctor)

..the game “sits above the normal oval ceramic urinal bowl, opening up a whole new world of entertainment…The user is presented with three generous targets to aim for in the urinal: stickers in the unit that read “Start”, “Left” and “Right”.”
Keep reading…


November 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm 2 comments

… Not So Public Toilets

“I’m starting to think that, actually, we don’t need more public toilets…”

This was the guilty whisper of one toilet expert of my acquaintance during another of our obsessive rants research meetings.

For years (decades in fact), organisations have been counting and objecting to the decline in public toilets. 10% decline over this period… 20% down over another… etc.

However the overall numbers don’t tell the real story.

For one thing, the term ‘public toilets’ doesn’t take into consideration shopping centre toilets, department store toilets, supermarket toilets, train station toilets, etc…

Yet all of these Not So Public Toilets are available, to varying degrees, for the public to use, be it at the discretion of the private-manager.

Public toilets sprang to life in the Victorian age, from a culture of ‘cleanliness is next to Godliness’ and the philanthropic attitude of the upper classes towards the poor, filthy masses.
Keep reading…

July 15, 2011 at 5:06 pm 1 comment

… Planning Applications

Today I’ve been working my way through the supporting documents for the new public toilets for Oxford Street. (My previous blog post about them is here and the planning documents are here, at the time of writing.)

My response to the planning proposal is here (pdf). I made 4 points, about Gender Ratios, Signs, ‘Changing Places’ and Benches.

It wasn’t easy to comment on a planning application. Here’s why…

1 – I had to know about it.

  • As part of my research I met a man at Westminster Council in 2009 who told me they were hoping to build a public toilet pavillion on this site (between John Lewis and House of Fraser).
  • In 2010 I heard that there was something in a London paper about the department stores objecting because it would draw people away from their stores!
  • Finally, the developers of the toilets contacted my Supervisor as they were looking for some researchers to count nearby toilets (tempting, but not what we do).

So I kept an eye out.
Read more…

May 4, 2011 at 5:43 pm 2 comments

… Oxford Street

There are new public toilets planned for Oxford Street!


Or is it?

Public toilet blocks don’t get built that often nowadays, but this is different. They’re not really ‘new’ but a replacement, because the last set of public toilets on London’s busiest shopping street were filled in with concrete.

You see there was a set of public toilets underneath Oxford Circus. Access was via a set of steps on a pedestrian traffic island in the middle of the crossing with Regent Street (with men’s and women’s on the opposite sides of the junction).

There was never anyone in them (well, not in the Ladies…). I always thought that this was because of their awful location; maybe no one noticed that they were there?!

Inside they were alright, much like most of Westminster Council’s toilets, as they’d been refurbished in 2005 for £300 000. When I visited the toilets in 2006 and took photos, as-you-do, there was also a plant. I liked that.
Read more…

April 27, 2011 at 5:13 pm 1 comment

… the Queue for the Ladies

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!”

Keep reading…

October 19, 2010 at 4:32 pm 1 comment

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