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Designing Public Toilets

Urinals

All urinals should be fitted with a flush valve and an automatic flushing device. The fixture should be concealed for easy maintenance and to deter vandalism. Urinals should be individual wall hung units, more than 300mm wide, and the lip of the collection area should project from the wall by at least 300mm. Space around urinal(s) should be in accordance with Appendix I. Urinals should be separated by modesty boards of not less than 300 x 800mm (height). If two or more urinals are installed, one should be installed at child’s height. As a further enhancement to keep the urinal areas dry, stainless steel grating could be installed over the drainage and below the urinal bowls.

Water Closets

All WCs should preferably be wall hung and should be fitted with a flush valve and an automatic flushing device with a manual bypass. The fixture should be concealed for easy maintenance and to deter vandalism. WC cubicles should be 850mm (min) x 1500mm (min). All WC cubicles should be fitted with drum roll toilet paper dispensers. Coat hooks (double hooks) should be affixed behind cubicle doors. A platform or foldable shelf could be installed in the cubicles for putting personal items. Cubicle partition board should be of rigid design and wall or ceiling hung, wherever practical, without leg support for easy cleaning of the floor area.

An ablution tap coupled with hose and a spring-loaded nozzle should be installed in at least one WC compartment in male and female toilets. Floor trap should be provided within the WC where it is fitted with the ablution tap. The flooring of WC cubicles should be properly graded towards the floor trap so as to keep the floor as dry as possible. That particular cubicle should have signage displayed for easy identification.

Washbasins

Washbasins should be substantial in size. The basins should have a minimum size of 500mm in length and 400mm in width. The space around wash hand basins should be in accordance with Appendix II. All wash basins should be installed into vanity tops, and located beneath the vanity. Vanity tops should have backsplash and apron edges.

All wash basin taps should be provided with PUB-approved aerators. As an effort to conserve water, electronically controlled taps can be considered. Sensor controlled taps with their precise flow settings and positive shutoff characteristics, offer effective means for providing adequate water flow when it is required. Further to this, it will minimise hand contact.

The water pressure and tap/wash basin position should not cause water to splash onto user’s body during activation. In order to keep the floor dry, the vanity top-cum-wash basin should be installed outside the toilets for common use by all. Liquid soap dispensers, paper towel dispenser or hand dryer and litter bins should be installed adjacent to the wash basins.

Provision of facilities

All public toilets should be fitted with:

  1. Waste bins inside each male and female toilet and outside toilets located directly below or in close proximity to the washbasin vanity.
  2. Either paper towel dispenser or hand drier, directly above or in close proximity to the washbasin vanity.
  3. Sanitary disposal bins in female toilets
  4. Suitable air fresheners to promote a fragrant, pleasing environment. Any airfresheners spray should avoid spraying directly at user’s hair, face and body. It should spray away in non-traffic directions or upwards.
  5. Sanitizers in each WC bowl/urinal fitting.
  6. Wash areas should also be provided outside public toilets serving wet markets and beaches.
  7. A slop sink and it should preferably be housed in a separate compartment.

Special Needs

  1. Diaper changing station.
  2. Toilet for the handicapped:

Where sanitary provisions are to be made for wheelchair users, such provisions should be in accordance with the requirements stipulated under BCA’s “Code on Barrier-Free Accessibility in Buildings”. The wash basin in handicap toilets should be within reach from a seated position so that the handicapped can do his washing without shifting himself.

Installation Standards

All pipe works should be concealed, except for final connections to the fixtures. Pipe work exposed to view should be chrome-plated. Avoid surface mounting of cables. They should be fully concealed. Avoid sharp corners or edges. Coved tiles or PVC strips should be provided along these edges as far as possible. Access panels to pipe ducts should be located as far as possible in inconspicuous areas. Mirrors should be flush with the wall surface.

Ventilation System

Proper ventilation of a public toilet is one of the biggest priorities. Ineffective ventilation can make a public toilet unusable, even if it is well designed. Effective ventilation ensures that vitiated air is quickly extracted, and helps avoid dampness and subsequent growth of mould on floors and walls. Toilet air should be extracted to the outside by a mechanical ventilation system at a rate not less than 15 air charges per hour.

The mechanical ventilation system of exhaust fans and, where applicable, ventilation ducts and grilles should ensure that every part of the toilet is within 3m of the fan inlet or an intake grille, measured horizontally. Preferably, intake grilles should also be provided at low levels near the WCs to enable foul-air to be extracted quickly before diffusing into other areas of the toilet. Where service access ducts are provided, these should be connected to the toilet exhaust ducts to extract air at a rate of five air changes per hour.

The make-up air to the service access ducts may be taken through extract grilles installed at low level on the walls between the WC compartments and the access duct. The exhaust air should be discharged to the exterior of the building at a position at least 2m above the pavement level and at least 5m from any window or fresh air intake.

Replacement air should be supplied to the toilet to make up for the exhaust air. The replacement air may be taken directly from the exterior, or from adjacent spaces that are permanently air-conditioned or naturally ventilated.

The replacement air may be drawn through louvres in the doors, cuttings under the door, or other openings. If replacement air is taken from the exterior, the quantity shall be lower than that of the exhaust air so that a lower pressure is created in the toilet, which minimises the possibility of vitiated air entering the adjacent spaces. Replacement air should preferably be discharged close to the floor level near the wash basins to help keep the floor dry.

Air locks should be incorporated to separate toilet areas from food consumption or preparation areas.

Looscaping

The ambience of public toilets can be enhanced further by:

  1. Introducing easy maintenance plants inside the toilets as well as surrounding the public toilets.
  2. Placing wall pictures with delicate lighting on them.
  3. Placing ornaments or sculptures at the ‘dead’ corners of the toilets.
Jack Sim, President
Restroom Association, Singapore

Unique Eco Toilets

In a recent innovation, students of S J college of Engineering, Mysore, have come up with a new eco toilet model. This new dry toilet has no flush system. Water is used only when the user washes. There are two concretised pits created above the ground level, each with two compartments – one for faeces and the other to collect urine. There is a separate arrangement to collect used water, which is allowed to soak in the soil. The toilet can be used by a family of five for a period of six to eight months.

The separate concertised pits ensure the faecal waste & water/urine do not mix as it cause a stink. After every use, a bowl of soil and sawdust or husk or green leaves has to be put into the toilet. Once the faecal pit is full, the pit has to be closed and the alternate pit has to be used. The first pit will remain closed for two-three months by which time it will degrade and become humanure (biofertiliser).”

The pit containing urine can be directly used on plants as they have a high level of nitrogen content. The eco toilet can reduce water usage in toilets by 80-90%. Over 400 such toilets have already been set up in Mysore, with 1,000 more to be set up in Hunsur region.

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