Let’s stop saying NO to Public Toilets!
We don’t tend to talk about toilets much, even though we all use them. But not only do public toilets meet our voiding needs when we go out: they are the site for many underlying social processes and behaviours, especially those related to gender roles.
From a purely physical needs perspective, nearly thousands of Indians have bladder or bowel control problems. This means many can’t confidently leave their homes unless they know clean and hygienic toilets will be available.
People who have to plan their activities or schedules around their toileting needs are frequent users of public toilets. They include the elderly, parents with small children, people with certain disabilities, people with a range of medical conditions, and workers whose jobs involve traveling (and these groups are not mutually exclusive).
Anyone, who has ever been in an overcrowded or uncomfortable public toilet, will value a good toilet design. The usual demands placed on a high-profile, high traffic and heavily used facility requires extra thoughts for each process.
A well-designed public toilet has to be:
(a) Clean, hygienic and dry.
(b) Well ventilated.
(c) Easy to maintain.
(d) Carefully planned layout with maintenance in mind.
(e) User – friendly to people with disabilities and special needs.
Let us talk about the must-haves in a Public toilet:
1. Safe Seat:
It is a known fact that people are afraid to use a public washroom. Sharing a WC is like sharing a toothbrush or a towel with strangers. Until now, there wasn’t much that could be done to solve this problem for years.
Safe Seat is a hygienic, intelligent and a self-cleaning toilet seat cover technology. It is an electronic and an automatic sanitary machine with a sensor attached in each seat. The idea is to give every user a new, fresh and clean seat.
2. Wash Basins:
The use of flat bottom washbasins is not recommended. Such wash basins do not effectively allow dirt and debris to be washed into the drain pipes. Wash basins should be under-counter. Other designs such as a long basin trough are allowed provided that they can minimize the problem of water spilling over from the basin to the counter. For basins that sit on top of the counter or are stand-alone, should be deep enough to prevent water splashing out of the basins when in use
3. Sensor Taps:
All faucets should be sensory faucets by keeping hygiene into consideration.
Waste bins should be provided inside each male and female toilet and outside the toilets located directly below or in close proximity to the washbasin vanity. Sanitary disposal bins should be placed in each female toilet cubicle. The bins should be operable by means other than hand contact.
5. Hand dryer:
A minimum of one hand-dryer blower or paper towel dispenser should be provided near the hand washbasin area.
6. Soap dispensers:
One soap dispenser should be provided for every washbasin. Soap dispensers should be located in close proximity to basins. Dispensers should either have a transparent reservoir or a clear plastic soap refill indicator window. Soap valves should be made of corrosion-free materials and suited to dispense hand soap. However, a Sensor Soap Dispenser is a complete Yay-Yay!
7. Toilet papers:
An extra-large toilet paper roll along with holder, multi-roll capacity or a toilet tissue sheet dispenser of similar capacity should be installed in each water closet cubicle.
One of the major reasons people avoid Public toilet is the ‘Odour’.
Let’s talk about it.
Whilst public toilet itself is actually the source of malodour, it is practically impossible to abolish malodour completely unless the toilet is kept away from being used which does not seem sensible at all. Having said that, however, by careful consideration on the design of both natural and mechanical ventilation system for a public toilet, it is possible to minimize the nuisance of malodour both to the users as well as to the general public in the vicinity.
Proper ventilation of a public toilet is one of the highest priorities in the design of toilets. Ventilation system ensures that vitiated air is quickly extracted, and helps to avoid dampness and subsequent growth of mold on floors and walls.
THUMB RULE OF VENTILATION
Special consideration on the design of the toilet enclosure and layout could also enhance its natural cross ventilation.
Features like the lifted-up roof, roof ventilation openings, external wall undercut, high and low-level external louvers, unobstructed air flow path with respect to entrance opening position, openings on opposite walls, etc. are measures that could increase natural cross ventilation inside a toilet and help to remove malodour more quickly and effectively.
According to international design guidelines and standards, the recommended mechanical ventilation rate for the toilet is around 6 to 10 air changes per hour. However, in India, due to our high population density, It is, therefore, necessary to design the ventilation rate at 20 air changes per hour. With a higher air change rate, the removal of malodour is extra effective.
It’s quite improbable that public bathrooms will make you sick, and it’s better to go when you need to than to hold it until you reach home. Yes, Public toilets often smell bad and sometimes look unsavory, and it’s true that they harbor germs. But so do so many other places we visit frequently, including offices, schools, home, and stores. Germs won’t make you sick if you leave them in the bathroom instead of taking them with you.
The Indian Government is leading the way with its ‘Swachh Bharat’ Mission ‘Clean India Campaign’ which aims to provide universal access to all Indians in just 5 years (2014–2019), proclaiming the nation ODF (open defecation free) and building more than 100 million toilets. The campaign is making swift progress in providing access to toilets and awareness is high amongst citizens.
The evolution of Public Toilets in recent years:
Project name: THE LIGHT BOX
Architect: ROHAN CHAVAN
Where: TEEN HATH NAKA FLYOVER, THANE WEST, THANE, MAHARASHTRA.
The above restroom stands at one of the busiest roads of Mumbai, under an overhanging tree. It has four blocks at two ends. At one end there are two toilets with a common washbasin and at the other end, there is a nursing room and a toilet for handicapped and senior citizens. The center of the restroom is a garden for various activities.
The Restroom with toilet blocks is fitted with a biodigester to reduce the use of fresh water and improved waste management. It also includes a nursing room and has amenities like sanitary pads vending machine and incinerator, CCTV cameras, Mobile charging points and a panic alarm system in place. “For us, providing a safe environment for women was as important as providing hygienic toilets. We have created space for an ATM machine and are looking to collaborate with banks that can provide this facility along with a security guard to make the restrooms more secured.” Says the founder.
This Public toilet at one of the most famous places in Mumbai is more art than architecture.
Architect: Serie Architects
Where: Marine Drive
A swanky and eco-friendly public toilet equipped with solar panel and vacuum technology at Marine Drive has been designed keeping hygiene in mind and to save water. Built at a whopping cost of Rs 90 lakh, the facility will be of great help to the general public, including joggers and cyclists, who throng the iconic promenade. A toilet generally requires eight liters of water for a single flush, but this facility uses only 800 ml water. Besides saving water, the toilet’s vacuum technology will prevent a few million liters of raw sewage from getting flushed directly into the Marine Drive bay each year.
People travel long distances to work and back but there is no infrastructure available to absorb their requirements. For instance, on a highway, you don’t want to only use the toilet, you might want to freshen up and change, or charge your phone, yet the toilets never address these needs.
The idea behind this article is to prevent serious health issues and encourage people to use public toilets in a country like ours where people, despite having public toilets, piddle in the open or hold the pee because of the unhygienic conditions of the Public Toilets.
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