The Multiple Occupancy Bathroom of the Future?
The bathroom has been a national hot spot of discussion, particularly since North Carolina’s HB 2 was signed into law on March 23, 2016.
In short, NC’s HB 2 maintains that “single sex multiple occupancy bathroom and changing facilities” in schools and public agencies are to be reserved for persons of a specific biological sex “as stated on a person’s birth certificate.”
The heated reaction regarding biologically separate, multiple occupancy restroom facilities in public schools and other public buildings appears to have two principal camps: Those who support individuals who identify as transgender as being able to use a public restroom of the gender with which they identify, and those who wish for safety/privacy issues to retain usage of multiple occupancy bathrooms based on biological sex.
Instead, in this post, I turn my attention to the multiple occupancy public restroom facility of the not-so-distant future. Like, now.
Whether HB 2 is repealed or not, I believe that the national publicity surrounding the issue is going to alter public restroom design. That might sound funny, but I anticipate that architects and designers of public buildings are already trying to design a multiple occupancy restroom that is able to transcend concern.
I have seen multiple occupancy restrooms in some restaurants and truck stops in which the stall is designed like a little room– it is the size of a stall, yet it has a regular door with a door knob and solid walls. When the door is closed, there is no way for another person to enter by climbing over or under. I have seen some such stalls that have only a few inches of opening at top and bottom; still others are completely enclosed, like a room.
Privacy and safety for any and all individuals in their most vulnerable “I gotta go” moments– and in a multiple occupancy restroom capacity.
The bathrooms described above all had a common wash area that one enters and exits by a common door– the usual open area in a multiple occupancy restroom. This area the future-minded architects and building designers might retain. However, I also envision a design in which the common area for hand washing is actually an open area– no doors necessary to enter or exit.
And urinals– well, I think those could be on their way to extinction. (I once saw a men’s room converted to a women’s room and the urinals holding floral arrangements. Creative.)
I believe that America is able to conquer the bathroom, and our architects and building designers might just be the ones to help us move forward.
Coming June 2016 from TC Press: