Washrooms of commercial or business establishments reflect the value that an organization provides its employees and clientele. One of the most salient factors that affect user experience and therefore needs to be considered in designing a commercial washroom is the layout. Thoughtfully designed, well-constructed, and inclusive washroom layouts require a deep understanding of the needs, behaviour, and limitations of various users and to be designed accordingly and go beyond just function and provide a truly comfortable experience.
Here are several areas that need to be considered in determining a commercial washroom layout.
Type of Commercial Building
The needs of washroom users vary from one establishment to another as recognised by The British Standard Code BS 6465-1, Sanitary Installations. For instance, in places like Ashton Gate Stadium in Bristol where droves of people use washrooms together before or after games and during breaks, people tend to go to the loo during concentrated periods. To accommodate this, large-capacity washrooms furnished with durable accessories by Dolphin Solutions were designed to accommodate and withstand the periodic surge of traffic.
At St. Ann’s Shopping Centre in Harrow, on the other hand, shoppers use water closets throughout the day. To meet this demand, Dolphin put priority on providing shoppers with a relaxing experience by designing a sleek layout for their washrooms and equipping those with a variety of their proprietary all-in-one Alavo wash stations. This design also helped the facility’s maintenance services efficiently clean and maintain the washrooms throughout the day.
Transport stations, such as the London Victoria, also experience high foot traffic 24/7 from commuters particularly luggage-carrying travelers. Dolphin fitted their washrooms with durable infrared sensor taps and infrared foam soap dispensers to significantly reduce cross-contamination and promote safety among passengers rushing in and out of the terminal. Dolphin also supplied behind-mirror hand dryers, giving passengers a convenient and hygienic hand-wash experience without moving away from the vanity.
At corporate settings, managements put a premium towards providing a better sense of safety, privacy, and comfort in designing washrooms, with the state-of-office facilities linked strongly to employee satisfaction and retention. This is a factor in the downward trend of urinals that have since been replaced by full cubicles in male washrooms.
Washroom requirements for employees also tend to differ from clients in commercial establishments. For example, many employees utilize taps not only for hand washing but also for brushing their teeth. Efforts are made to create washroom settings that have a homey or hotel-like feel.
Recently, the demand for superloos in corporate offices has been growing and expected to continuously grow in the wake of the pandemic. Superloos are full washrooms enclosed in a single cubicle with complete facilities.
Appropriate washroom layouts will be different for younger users and older users. According to existing standards, washrooms for primary school students under the age of ten require more space than washrooms for students above the age of ten and attending secondary school. Younger children tend to need support in using washroom facilities, thus requiring additional space. Additionally, school washrooms need to have good sight lines for administrators to utilize and help minimize any opportunity for bullying.
In A Code of Practice for Public Toilets in Britain, Dr. Clara Greed acknowledged that certain establishments are used more by either gender. Dr. Greed cited a research by Alexander Kira that states that women use washrooms longer than men due to biological reasons. She also referenced a 2002 research by Yoshihiro Asano that illustrated women outnumbering men in shopping areas and Simon Inglis’ 1993 paper saying that men outnumber women at football stadiums.
Due to changing gender norms, washroom types have also evolved into being more inclusive. This is another factor that has increased the demand for superloos like the units designed and furnished by Dolphin in 2 Forbury Place, Reading.
Because of the self-contained setup in superloos, users of all genders can complete all washroom activities within the cubicle, providing an unparalleled level of privacy and safety and without the need for additional provisions. It should be noted however that users tend to spend longer periods in a superloo than a traditional cubicle, giving rise to the need to increase the number of washrooms by 20 to 25%.
The Equality Act stipulates that all establishments, including building and stand-alone washrooms, should be accessible to users of varying abilities. Further, BS 8300-2:2018 recommends certain designs and layouts for building interiors and facilities to accommodate users of all abilities and disabilities.
In particular, at least one ambulant toilet is required per washroom, installed in a convenient location, containing a WC, grab rails, and a toilet seat. The size should be big enough to accommodate a wheelchair and the user at the same time, with a minimum length of 850mm and 800mm distance between each side of the toilet and the walls. The ambulant toilet should be equipped with an out-swinging door with a width of 650mm at the minimum.
The Royal Exchange in London, known as Britain’s first shopping centre, has been recently remodelled by Aukett Swanke Architects and is now an upscale shopping and dining destination. The washrooms were remodelled using Dolphin Solutions’ Doc-M compliant fixtures to align with the stylish building interiors and with careful consideration of accessibility requirements.
People with Infants
Parents and caregivers need a clean, quiet, and comfortable place to tend to the hygiene of their babies while visiting shopping centres and similar other establishments. Infants’ needs are vastly different from physically challenged individuals; although in areas where baby-changing facilities are not available, parents resort to using accessible washrooms, resulting in longer queues. With this in mind, the British Toilet Association requires at least one baby-changing facility for every 10,000 people in an establishment.
At the heart of all the codes for designing commercial washroom layouts is the human experience. The washroom is a big part of people’s overall touchpoint with your establishment or destination. Designing your commercial washroom in a way that is considerate of their needs goes a long way in positioning yourself as a business they can trust and build enduring relationships with.
Know more about Dolphin’s premium range of code-compliant washroom solutions here.