Design Resources

January 26, 2009
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Resources on Restroom Design and Management We’re tracking the latest print and online resources on public restroom design and would like to hear your suggestions.

Books Recently a number of architectural and social works on toilet design have appeared.   Many  refer more to privately-owned facilities in public places rather than publicly-owned facilities in public spaces.

Inclusive Urban Design:  Public Toilets. Clara Greed. Architectural Press. 2003.   Greed insists that “public toilets should be seen as an integral and important component of modern urban design and town planning policy at city-wide, local area and individual site level”.  Too often architects and planners look narrowly at the legal specifications for the facilities and ignore both the way restrooms interact with their surroundings and the changing needs of users.

Publicly Accessible Toilets: An Inclusive Design Guide. British authors and designers Gail Knight and Jo-Anne Bichard look at accessibility issues of all kinds in this nicely illustrated new study available free online.

Global Guideline for Practical Public Toilet Design. Developed by the World Toilet Organization and International Code Council Development Committee in 2011, this is available for purchase.  An overview of publication ICC G3-2011 is here

Flush!  Modern Toilet Design.  Ingrid Wenz-Gahler.  Birkhauser – Publishers for Architecture. 2005.   In this richly illustrated book, the author shows how avant-garde restrooms are the calling cards for clubs, restaurants and corporate headquarters.  Information on western toilet history and the current state of affairs is included.

Public Toilet Design: From Hotels, Bars, Restaurants, Civic Buildings and Businesses Worldwide. Cristina del Valle Schuster, Trends in Architecture. 2005.  Lamenting the lack of interest in the design community on restrooms, the author offers superb photographs and commentary on 278 facilities in restaurants, clubs, cinemas, fitness centers, hotels, places of work and commuting spaces.

Ladies and Gents: Public Toilets and Gender. Olga Gershenson and Barbara Penner, eds. Temple University Press, 2009  The first sections of this collection of sixteen essays cover toilets, gender, and politics; the second looks at design and cultural representation.

Queering Bathrooms: Gender Sexuality. and the Hygienic Imagination. Sheila L. Cavanagh. University of Toronto Press, 2010.  Combines architecture, psychology and queer/transgender studies to provide insights on issues restroom designers need to think about.

Cultural factors and public restroom design

The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters. By Rose George. Henry Holt and Company. 2008.    Hip and meticulous British journalist Rose George offers a sobering and eye-opening account of just how badly the world handles this one great and inevitable problem. Says one reviewer, “What if you learned that a particular problem was causing 80% of the illness in the world and was killing a child every fifteen seconds? Would you want to find out more, and insist that governments and the world do more, to improve the problem? What if you learned that one of the big reasons that governments and the world aren’t doing more is that the problem is, well, yucky, and people don’t like talking or thinking about it? There are blunter words for the problem, and Rose George uses them.”

Poop Culture: How America is Shaped by its Grossest National Product. By Dave Praeger, 2007.   “It’s the most universal human experience.” claims journalist Praeger, “So why does it cause so much shame, embarrassment, and angst? This book explores why we see this bodily function the way we do, how this view impacts the way we deal with the physical byproduct, and the social and environmental issues that arise because we’re too uncomfortable to discuss them.” According to one reviewer, “Underneath the entertaining history and stories about poop there exist some fundamental and very important issues. For example, our culture’s shame of defecation translates into a rather unhealthy and irrational way of dealing with poop on a practical level–as evidenced by our toilet and sewer design. Praeger provides some greener alternatives to the way things have been done in the past.”



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    Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human, or PHLUSH, is an all-volunteer advocacy group based in Portland's Old Town Chinatown. We collaborate with grassroots organizations, environmental activists, planners, architects, code officials and city managers. We receive support from the Old Town Chinatown Community Association and Neighbors West-Northwest. PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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