Young Designers 2011

Context and Opportunities: Public Bathrooms for Universal Access in Indian Slums
Ceramic and Glass Design | PGDPD
Neelima Hasija
Tata Research Chair at NID
Public Bathroom
Universal Design
Indian Context
Slum Community
The project involved developing a public bathroom design, within the Indian context, based on universal design principles. The use of a public bathroom can turn into a challenging experience for many people, especially those who have low self-esteem because they are unable to perform their ablutions independently. Slippery, wet floors and hard, protruding objects can be hazardous to all users, especially children, the elderly and the disabled.

The entire design process worked in conjunction with research and product development. Through field study and case reports, I gathered empirical data that helped me understand the cultural variations, regional differences and social values in relation to bathroom design and usability. It also helped me identify the bathroom needs and develop a universal bathroom for Indian use.

The design of a new public bathroom is a modern solution to an age-old problem that is compounded by tradition and social norms. The two outcomes of this project are: First, the new design of the bathroom stall and its interiors and second, the design of the sink and the grooming area. Made up of panels for storage, faucet and support, which can be organized in many ways, the designs may be customized to suit the usersí individual and collective needs. The off-site construction and on-site installation of these factory-made prefab units may help address the shortages in a large number of public toilets.

The project gave me the opportunity to experience first-hand how new products and space design based on research may be implemented. I learnt new methods of design research that can be used to understand user needs and preferences.
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