Public Restroom Design

I designed a public restroom for our junior year “workstation” project. The restroom takes place in a corporate setting, where there will be over 50-100 people using it, and there is a unique kind of psychology happening. The main focus in my design was the urinal station, and the idea was to distract people from the anxiety of the public restrooms by making the act of urination an achievement – it waters the plants in front of you – and a way to bring corporate values like working together into the restroom – LED lights display how watered the plants are, so as more people pee throughout the day/week, the LED bars will raise. This also gives you something pleasant to look at and an easy way to talk to the person next to you (“Watering the plants again, Bill?”) The filtration system uses activated charcoal, crushed limestone and greensand to filter urine of harmful toxins, acidity, salt, among others to make it useable to water plants. This was suggested by a professor of horticulture specializing in toxicology here at the University of Cincinnati. On a more physical level to help people “go,” there’s a gentle water stream built into the urinal station for auditory and visual aid.

The sink area also features a filtration system to use runoff water to water the plants on either side. I used a lot of filleted corners as a design aesthetic to make sanitation easier, and give the room a softer, welcoming, less harsh appearance, which I felt may help people do their “business” and have a more pleasant public restroom experience. Thanks!

I like the concept and the story boards. Clearly explained and a good balance of aesthetic and psychological improvements. I think it might be even greener to use waterless urinals

The “watered level meter” makes me giggle.

Definitely not a typical project. I think your general direction of water filtering/ sharing is good. Renderings and overall aesthetic are nice and clean.

Some things I would have liked to have seen considered.
-Is the space scalable? Here in NYC we have a lot of standalone 1 toilet restrooms. Could this be scaled down to that? Could it be a more modular construction type to allow for easy retrofitting of existing bathrooms?
-As far as the actual urinal goes, is there some new kind of urinal archetype maybe? There’s a lot out there, but your form doesn’t necessarily tell the story that your pee is watering the plants.
-Addressing the issue of “back splash” might be a good basic usability problem to attack.
-Rethinking The Stall would be a great project in itself, but maybe too much for the scope of this one. It would have been nice to see a little thought there though.
-What about sunlight for the plants? Could your pee stream spin a water wheel to generate power for growing lights?

seems like you had fun. What’s with the coffee mugs chillin on that ledge?

Gross and Awesome! Cool concept. The only major flaw I see is that unless you have a pretty slick hinge, those doors to the stalls aren’t going to open.

Ha! I’m glad you found that. I realized that it wouldn’t work the night before it was due; the best solution I thought of would be offsetting the heights of the doors so that they pass over the dividers. Thanks for your time! I’m planning on continuing this project for my senior thesis, so all your comments are extremely appreciated!

The ledge is because this was designed to be in a corporate setting, which I forgot to mention earlier, so employees can have a place to put their mugs and clipboards when they walk in. The whole “peeing to water the plants” is also designed around corporate values like teamwork, raising the bar, and stuff like that so that urinating to grow plants is a way to “play your part” within the system kind of thing, and maybe give the employee a boost of confidence!

I’d still like to see you explore the circular layout we talked about when I was at UC.


Awesome concept.
Just some ideas if you do plan on going into much more depth.
I get kind of the ‘green’ washroom from this concept. Does the urinal itself have to be so large? The less ceramic the better?
Look into plants that have the ability to withstand the brown water so maybe the filters can last longer? Maybe even filter the water itself?

Also this may be off topic as to what the project is trying to achieve. Basically I think that only 20% of people only wash there hands properly. So if you decide to go paperless in regards to drying hands. Ensure the door OPENs from the inside of the bathroom so that you can open the door with your foot. Washing your hands is pointless if one person has touched the door handle with there dirty hands.

Hey Mike, yea, that would’ve be interesting if I had some more time. The main feedback I got was to take the concept further, be more controversial, and I think something more radical like the circular layout would’ve been sweet. Maybe next time :slight_smile:

Next time is now, you can pound that out in 48 hours!

Next time is now> , you can pound that out in 48 hours!

For the rest of your career as a professional designer.

Your Boss: Oh, and I need you to knock out another concepts before my meeting with marketing tomorrow afternoon. I know this is short notice, but I just found out myself…
You: Maybe next time.

Your Boss: What next time?

What’s with the coffee mugs chillin on that ledge?

Well, after goofing around walking the isles and getting your caffeine dose, you have to have some place to park the damned thing before you water the plants. dontcha?

LMO (and Mike):
Thanks for your response! In my spring break (attempt at) rest, the “maybe next time” response was a little misguided and lazy sounding.
My only comment is that there will be a next time! I am taking what I got from this project, and doing it again for my senior thesis, for the simple reason of I just can’t take my mind off of public restroom design! They’re awful. Even the good ones. Everything from the individual fixtures – toilets, sinks, urinals, stalls etc… – to the larger integration of them needs, desperately, to be reconsidered for modern psychological and physical needs. I think the issue of attaining privacy in a public setting (especially where you do your most personal and private things) is one of the most intriguing design problems I have faced. Maybe I’m over thinking it, but I feel as though even another 6 months to tackle this problem again won’t suffice! Either way, “maybe next time” is definitely a dumb response, so I’ll take that advice to heart. I will start tinkering around with the suggested concepts, especially Mike’s circular “pod” layout, as soon as I finish decompressing over this break.

And yea, unless you can also water the plants with your coffee, I don’t see why you’d want to carry your mug to the urinals or toilets!

Thanks again for your responses!

I know it’s a little delayed, but I finally was able to finish up modeling and rendering this urinal concept. You can see the original sketches of it that I did a few weeks into the project (which were abandoned for a slightly different concept), which were resurrected with this render. The sink/washing station and toilet station are still in the works, I just wanted to post this to get some feedback.

Again, the idea is that the system filters urine to water the plants in front of you. So you not only have something nice to look at while you’re going, but it also makes you feel like you’re contributing to something while you urinate.

Let me know what you think!

-Eddie Gandelman