From back-to-wall designs to coloured toilets, these innovative loos are changing the way we think about public restrooms. Many designs respond to the fact that 950 million people globally still defecate outdoors.
The Tokyo Toilet Project features 17 eye-catching washrooms scattered around Nanago Dori Park in Tokyo. Kazoo Sato’s Hi Toilet uses voice commands to open and close the door and flush the toilet, reducing germ contact.
Many countries lack the water required for a traditional flush toilet. In these situations, composting toilets provide a solution that turns human waste into a nutrient-rich fertilizer. Composting toilets allow urine and solid waste to separate and are either buried on site or connected to a sewer system, depending on the model.
The main drawback of these units is that they require manual emptying. They also need to be aerated regularly and may require a certain level of humidity in order to prevent odors. However, some of these designs are also more environmentally friendly than conventional toilets. For example, the LooWatt uses no water and captures the faeces in a biodegradable polymer film and transports it to an anaerobic digester where it is turned into electricity.
Other toilets use a system called aerobic decomposition, which is similar to how soil breaks down in nature. This process takes longer and requires more energy, but it is less odorous and does not require potable water.
For this reason, these types of toilets are popular in developing nations and rural areas. Some even connect directly to a sewer system, saving the cost of an on-site septic tank. GARV has worked with governments and other partners to install these toilets in schools and refugee camps. The toilets are designed to be accessible for people with disabilities, making them a valuable resource for those in need.
The push for gender-neutral toilets is one of the biggest changes to public bathroom design in recent history. This change is part of a larger movement to fight for equality in the workplace, schools and public spaces by arguing that gender identity should determine access rather than sex at birth. But, as these new bathrooms are becoming more commonplace, many people are wondering how to address the inevitable backlash against them.
The hesitancy around gender-neutral restrooms is rooted in the idea that gender segregation is necessary for safety. But, according to research conducted by University of Kansas scholars, this is not the case. They interviewed soldiers who are part of Army special forces, also known as Green Berets, and found that most men and women do not object to sharing a restroom with the opposite sex.
In fact, this kind of arrangement may even lead to a more efficient use of resources as urinals take up less space than toilets. Despite this, the existing segregation of public toilets is still a major issue for many people. It also creates barriers for families with small children, disabled individuals and wheelchair users. One solution to this issue is to provide gender-neutral toilets with doors that are wide enough for a wheelchair to fit inside. This allows for a more inclusive space that can accommodate a wider range of needs without sacrificing the safety of those with disabilities or other limitations.
A waterless toilet is a great alternative for people who struggle with “shy bladder syndrome”, or who are concerned about the privacy of using public toilets. These toilets use a conveyor belt to dispose of waste rather than flushing it away, and they can be used by both men and women. The conveyor belt can be filled with sand or another dry material to prevent faeces from sticking, and users simply push a lever to activate it. The waste is then transferred to a bin underneath which is sealed off by a sprung-hatch door.
These toilets are ideal for places that do not have access to sewerage systems, such as campsites, country parks, golf courses, and allotments. They are also very portable, so can be taken to other locations when necessary. They are easy to clean and can be easily emptied, unlike conventional toilets that can be hard to move or damage without specialist machinery.
As more attention is focused on resource conservation, innovative designs like touchless combination units are becoming increasingly popular. This can also be seen with new innovations in bathroom technology, such as automatic hand dryers that reduce paper towel waste. This trend has created an opportunity for design firms to create modern public toilet structures that are eco-friendly and enhance public spaces.
As IoT (Internet of Things) technology expands around the world, it is also entering the bathroom. The sensor-based toilet uses a combination of PIR and ToF detection to detect occupancy. It then transmits the data to a central server where it is monitored by an operator or an app.
It can differentiate between urine and other human activity, such as urination and bucket pouring for hygiene, so that the system does not waste water and electricity to flush toilets that are empty. It can also track the location of each user so that the toilet can be refilled.
Sensor-based toilets are particularly useful in the slums of South Asia, where there is a large sanitation gap. They can monitor slum toilets to assess the performance of nitrogen diversion solutions and provide feedback on user hygiene behavior.
Aside from these innovative public toilets, designers are coming up with all kinds of ideas to address the global sanitation crisis. From a prototype that combusts excrement into ashes to a lavatory for Mars, these ideas are part of the effort to provide safe and sustainable sanitation across the globe. With a combination of careful analysis of user needs, state-of-the-art technology that addresses resource conservation and safety, efficient planning with respect to privacy, inclusivity and appearance retention, these innovations can profoundly improve toilets for everyone.