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The most critical aspects of an airport are safety and security, runways and terminal facilities, air traffic control, connectivity and accessibility, passenger services, efficient operations and timing, environmental sustainability, collaboration and coordination, and ultimately providing a positive experience for passengers.

So, how do you design airport washrooms that can align with the overall goals of the airport and contribute to a positive passenger experience while maintaining optimal operational efficiency during a washroom refurbishment?

Dolphin Solutions has worked on multiple airport washroom projects and with our washroom products and services, we have managed to achieve these goals by providing washroom solutions that cope with the demands of an airport.

In this article, we will explore the challenges faced in airport washroom designs and present effective solutions to overcome them, enabling you to achieve your desired goals.

Top 5 Washroom challenges in airports and how to resolve them

Click on the challenge to jump to the solution:

Alavo behind mirror system commercial washroom solution installed in Hobart Airport

1. Washroom installation time in airports


Airports typically experience a high volume of passengers, which means that washrooms are constantly in use. Closing airport washrooms during refurbishments disrupts the availability of facilities, leading to inconvenience for passengers.

Passengers are the ones who are inconvenienced the most in this scenario, as they may have to travel to the other side of the airport from their gate to find an available washroom due to lengthy refurbishments, potentially even affecting their punctuality in catching their flight.

Another challenge is having multiple washroom companies, plumbers, and electricians on site which can prolong the refurbishment process as each role must handle individual components and ensure seamless integration. This adds time that airports simply do not have the luxury of.

Therefore, minimising downtime becomes crucial to ensure washroom access is maintained as much as possible.

Washroom solution

The main focus is on strategic scheduling, efficient coordination, and a well executed plan to maintain functionality, ensure passenger convenience, and minimise disruption to airport operations.

The solution is selecting washroom products and systems that offer faster installation. A prime example of an efficient and durable system, capable of withstanding heavy foot traffic, is the Dolphin ALAVO behind mirror system.

The Alavo mirror system is renowned for its modular design and rapid installation process, drastically reducing the time required to install a washstation.

What could take several days to install a traditional washstation with the various contractors on site can be completed within a few hours with a behind mirror system.

Open flow entrance for an airport washroom installed with a behind mirror system

2. Flow of personnel & airport capacity


When airports are at high capacity, it can increase demand on operational staff responsible for cleaning, maintenance, and restocking supplies in the airport washrooms.

This situation can strain resources and potentially cause delays in maintaining cleanliness and ensuring adequate supplies, especially when facilities teams must allocate time to visit washrooms to check if they require any maintenance or cleaning services.

Washroom solution

Given the vast scale of passengers and the multitude of airport washrooms to manage, integrating SMART washroom technology within the behind mirror system will provide real time monitoring of every washroom, ensuring efficient operations.

Facilities teams will no longer need to manually check each washroom’s functionality. Instead, they can access the centralised SMART washroom database to monitor the status of every washroom. They can quickly determine if the airport washrooms have been in use and require cleaning and management can make an informed decision to allocate their cleaning and maintenance resources accordingly.

How else can SMART technology benefit airport washrooms?

A SMART washroom system offers valuable features such as fault reporting alarms, predictive maintenance, and predictive cleaning. It detects faults in real time, alerts users about the issues, and notifies when consumables need replenishing.

By analysing the data, the system allows for proactive maintenance, predicting component failures and ensuring uninterrupted functionality. It also enables optimised cleaning schedules based on usage patterns, making efficient use of cleaning resources.

Overall, a SMART washroom system enhances efficiency, minimises disruptions, and improves customer satisfaction.

Sustainably made touch free taps and vanity tops installed with behind mirror system

3. Meeting sustainability requirements in airports


Airports have a significant carbon footprint, and incorporating sustainable design practices in airport washrooms helps reduce their environmental impact.

Sustainable design features such as water efficient fixtures, energy saving washroom products, and eco-friendly materials can reduce water and energy consumption and minimise waste generation.

Let’s look at London Heathrow Airport as an example. In 2021, Heathrow handled approximately 19.4 million passengers, down from 80.9 million in 2019. This highlights the significance of prioritising water and energy conservation in airport washrooms.

Considering the substantial usage these facilities experience, it becomes imperative to implement measures that actively promote sustainability and effectively minimise the environmental impact.

Washroom solution

By implementing sustainable washroom products, airport washrooms can contribute to conserving valuable resources. Sustainable washroom products include:

Space saving Superloo washroom layout in business class airport

4. High footfall and saving space in airports


Airport washrooms need to efficiently utilise the available space while accommodating a large number of passengers. However, designing layouts that optimise flow, provide adequate privacy, and accommodate various fixtures and amenities within limited space can be challenging.

Designing airport washrooms to handle the continuous flow of people while minimising congestion, queues, and wait times requires careful planning.

Washroom solution

The most effective solution is to centralise washroom products in a single location, minimising the distance between hand washing and drying areas. This approach proves highly effective, especially when working within space limitations.

The most effective airport washroom designs incorporate a designated ‘sanitary’ area for WC’s and urinals, as well as a separate ‘hygiene’ area for hand washing and drying. These layouts are carefully planned to ensure sufficient space for passengers to maneuver within the washrooms, even during peak times, while accommodating their bulky luggage.

Therefore, a behind mirror system emerges as the ideal choice for airport washrooms. This system provides utmost convenience as all essentials are easily and swiftly accessible within one designated space and users can enjoy a sense of privacy, knowing that everything they need for hand washing and drying is conveniently combined in a single spot.

The inclusion of a behind mirror system in airport washrooms enhances the overall passenger experience. With many passengers carrying luggage or bags, having a hand washing and drying station in one place eliminates the need to navigate across the washroom while carrying their belongings and with wet hands. This not only improves convenience but also ensures a more seamless and enjoyable customer experience.

Superloo layouts are a popular choice for addressing this challenge in business class airport lounge washrooms. These layouts offer enhanced privacy, exclusivity, and a VIP experience for business class passengers.

The design not only creates a luxurious and upscale ambience but also integrates additional amenities to cater to the needs of passengers. When designing premium airport washrooms, a behind mirror system proves advantageous as it helps optimise space utilisation within a superloo layout.

Superloos also help manage queues, improve efficiency, and contribute to branding strategies.

Hygienic touch free washroom taps and behind mirror washstation

5. Hygiene and maintenance in airports


Maintaining a high level of hygiene in airport washrooms is crucial to ensure a clean and healthy environment for passengers. With a large number of people using the facilities throughout the day, the risk of germ transmission and the spread of illnesses increases.

Regular cleaning and disinfection protocols are essential to minimise the presence of harmful bacteria and viruses, however, the challenge lies in efficiently and effectively cleaning and sanitising the washrooms while managing the continuous influx of passengers.

Washroom solution

The design should consider durable materials that are easy to clean and maintain, incorporate touchless washroom products, such as sensor taps and touch free soap dispensers, to minimise germ transmission, and provide efficient waste management solutions. Choosing HEPA filter hand dryers also helps maintain cleanliness by filtering out airborne particles and using cartridge soap multifeed systems instead of refillable soap containers minimises the buildup of bacteria.

A behind mirror system is the epitome of a touch free washroom solution available in the market. Whether the hand washing appliances are installed behind the mirror, mounted on the counter, or mounted on the wall, the entire system is seamlessly interconnected, ensuring touch free operation for all appliances, regardless of their placement.

This offers a multitude of washstation design possibilities while effectively reducing contamination and the spread of germs.

With the use of an appropriate hinged mirror system like the ALAVO Behind Mirror System, quick and convenient access to all serviceable parts is ensured. These parts are designed to be plug and play, allowing for easy replacement or maintenance without the requirement of a qualified technician in many cases. By keeping all serviceable components behind locked mirror doors, valuable space is saved, and maintenance and cleaning staff are relieved of time consuming challenges.

To ensure efficient cleaning, a vanity top should be designed with quick and easy maintenance in mind. This includes using smooth and non-porous materials, opting for a seamless and integrated design, and choosing durable water resistant finishes.

The washroom design should allow for an open entrance or entrance corridor eliminating the need to touch any door handle or push plate. This design provides a sense of privacy while allowing for easy access and a seamless flow of individuals entering and exiting the washroom area. The private passageway typically shields the view into the washroom, creating a more discreet and enclosed space.

Taking into account the volume of passengers utilising the washrooms will also help in determining the appropriate waste bin capacity.

Innovative washroom solutions for airports

Designing airport washrooms that align with the overall goals of an airport and contribute to a positive passenger experience while maintaining operational efficiency can be achieved through strategic planning and the implementation of innovative washroom solutions.

Opting for faster installation solutions, such as a behind mirror system, minimizes passenger inconvenience and ensures timely access to washrooms. Considering the long lifespan of airport infrastructure, it is crucial to design washrooms that can adapt to evolving technology, such as a SMART washroom system, as well as meet sustainability requirements, address hygiene and maintenance concerns, save space, and meet passenger expectations.

By implementing innovative washroom solutions, architects can design airport washrooms that meet the demands of passengers, enhance sustainability, and provide a positive experience, ultimately contributing to the overall success of an airport.

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