Christian Pagh says “The field of sanitation and toilets management is really under-prioritized,”. He and two other designers created a four-urinal toilet, called Pollee, in 2011. But after weighing up market size and manufacturing costs, they didn’t develop it further.
Gail Ramster, a senior researcher at the Royal College of Art’s Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design, is sceptical about female urinals.”It’s quite a change in our habits to start using urinals,” she says. Factors like clothing and privacy could be issues for some women.
PIX. LAPEE TOILET DESIGNS
According to their research, 90% of toilet queues are women needing only to urinate.
Researchers from Ghent University simulated the waiting times for six different toilet layouts. They found that boosting the number of female facilities relative to men’s (unsurprisingly) cuts women’s queuing times.
But the best option was to install gender-neutral cubicles, with optional urinals for men, which delivered even greater time savings for women.
“For the unisex scenario, there’s higher utilization of your resources and inevitably leads to less waiting,” says Professor Wouter Rogiest, one of the study’s authors. “This [also] caters for the needs of transgender [people].”
It could be that the answer to those endless queues is not different women’s toilets, but simply more of them.
Women typically take longer in the toilet because of biological, societal and practical factors, such as menstruation, childcare or different clothing. Often this isn’t addressed when toilets are planned.
“We take 1.5 to two times as long as men to use the toilet. But rather than receiving 1.5 to two times more toilets, we actually receive fewer,” Ms Ramster says.
“Men’s and women’s toilets are often built to the same square footage, but because you can fit more urinals in that space, men have more fixtures to use, usually more than women do.”
Ms Gina Périer says Lapee debuted at three Danish music festivals last summer, including 48 units at Roskilde is targeting, “public spaces and any kind of gathering where toilets are pressured.” The team claim Lapee takes only 30 seconds to use, compared to one to two minutes for a regular cubicle. A 1,100 litre tank stores waste liquid underneath, allowing for about 3,500 visits. There are no doors, but the curved walls screen users from view, while encouraging quick use.
They’re also exploring using the waste-liquid for fertilizer and electricity production. Other urinal products have launched with varying success.
Perhaps best-known, SheWee, has been on the market almost two decades. The funnel-shaped device enables women to pee standing up.
Sam Fountain says her invention was first greeted with a mix of skepticism and joy. While it isn’t mainstream, the British firm says it has sold millions worldwide to outdoor enthusiasts, international military, people with health conditions, and charities for refugee camps.BBC