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Inclusive Toilet Hierarchy

Sustainability Issue 7
Potential Users: Urban Design Professionals

When to use: Stage Two of Urban Design Decision-Making Process

Related Tools: Toilet Audit Tool, Toilet Case Studies, Toilet Design Templates, Toilet User Personas, Toilet User Surveys
For more information, contact Julienne Hanson.

Some neighbourhood facilities do not feel welcoming whilst others are attractive.(Bichard 2006) VivaCity 2020Inclusive design tries to address the needs of all society’s members, so that no one is excluded because of poor design quality based on an inadequate understanding of user needs. However, one of the key criticisms of the inclusive design philosophy is that it is impossible to design a ‘one size fits all’ solution. This is especially so in the case of toilet provision for public use. A “generic” design solution like the unisex accessible cubicle, that is intended to serve everyone’s needs, is likely to prove inadequate for many potential users. This Resource therefore offers a range of solutions, each of which will meet the needs of a different proportion of the population. Providers should consider who their customers are, and select from a range of toilet cubicles that will offer sufficient choice to include all the potential users of their facilities.

There is a need to address the wide-ranging needs of all people when away from home. This has been one of the central aims of this research. By talking directly with users, this research has been able to identify a hierarchy of provision in respect of away from home toilets. This can be used to inform debates about the number and types of accessible toilet cubicles that should be provided in any particular context.

This illustrative hierarchy recognises that it will not be possible or affordable to provide every type of toilet in each and every location.

This illustrative hierarchy recognises that it will not be possible or affordable to provide every type of toilet in each and every location. It suggests that, when considering the urban situation, an inclusive solution may require four distinct levels of provision to reflect the different spatial catchments and diverse user-profiles of a large, metropolitan authority.

Four Levels of Provision

At the most local level, there is a need for many thousands of small, inclusively-designed and accessible “toilet pods” built to the generous space standards of a Universal cubicle, to serve every local gathering place, park or local meeting point. Each may only serve a few hundred people each week, but collectively the pods would provide a basic safety net across the city so that no one is more than a few hundred metres away from a local community facility if they need one.

Where more people congregate, such as on the high street, at a neighbourhood centre or in an “urban village”, basic inclusively-designed, gendered facilities are required that include both standard provision, and enlarged cubicles and that also provide at least one unisex accessible toilet and a baby-changing area. A large city might require need many hundreds of these neighbourhood facilities, depending on local needs. At the district level, every city should provide substantial away from home facilities to cater for the greater and more diverse footfall that is attracted to concentrations of mixed uses and urban amenities. These should be sited in locations that are well-integrated into the urban fabric and easily accessible on foot and by car to local people and visitors alike. These district level facilities that regularly attract hundreds of thousands of people, need to offer a wider range of cubicle choices, including family toilets, and to be attended and open 24 hours.

Finally, at the small number of strategic and central locations or amenities within the metropolitan region that attract millions of visitors annually (tourist attractions, shopping malls) fully-inclusive toilets should be provided to serve the metropolitan region, so that the most profoundly disabled people can get out and about within the wider urban region in the secure knowledge that they will be within reach of an accessible toilet if they need one.

Inclusive Toilet Hierarchy


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