Toilet Park at the Harijan Ashram premises in Ahmedabad stands distinct as it has been designed on the philosophy of Gandhiji and aims to raise awareness about sanitation issues. As his toilet park project is about to complete, Yatin Pandya, an author, activist, academician, researcher as well as the practising architect has redefined toilet design – from a concealed affair to the exalted one.
The toilet park comprises an area of 250sqm and includes toilet exhibition ground and restaurant. It has a display of different life scale installations of alternative toilets with non centralized waterborne sewage disposal system. This is now being used as a ground for meetings and gathering for lectures and film screening on social issues. It is also provided with modest outdoor restaurant set up consisting of preparation counters and eating tables.
The design takes clues from the very intention of transforming mindset about toilets and sanitation as ugly and concealed affair to exalted and open place. To do so exhibition platform is overlaid with built in seating and transparent glass tops to sit through for meetings or lectures. Toilet pans and treatment tanks are lit up with LED lights in different colours to give festive ambience.
The outdoor modest restaurant space is designed using toilet/bathroom accessories as functional and spatial elements and as positive reminders of the theme of the place. For example, four different types of commode pan such as European floor mounted, European wall mounted, Anglo Indian and Commode with water cistern are used as the seating chairs of the restaurant. The eating table top is created with bathroom floor tiles while freestanding support for the table is created through exposed open assembly of galvanised iron sanitary fittings such as elbow, tee, union, reducer and pipes. The lighting above the table is created out of rain shower hood.
The actual bathrooms consist of water closets mounted with waterless urinals and low flush pans conserving water and set in china mosaic (broken pieces of bathroom tiles). The blank wall of the adjoining building is used as the backdrop to subtly and artistically provide information and raise awareness about sanitation issues through handcrafted terracotta mural tiles from Molala with embedded motifs, messages and diagrams.
All in all, the design adds value to transform the negative mind-set into positive and vibrant space through indulging, interactive, informative and entertaining environment. It creates simple and austere yet playful and effective environment to help positively think about and enthusiastically engage in the social cause.