Prototype: Public Washrooms Design Challenge

What if we had more universally accessible public washroom facilities that were designed for our northern climate?

Students in the Industrial Design Program at the University of Alberta participated in a Public Washroom Challenge. Their instructions were to design a temporary all-season Public Washroom facility with minimal to no infrastructure (i.e. require no water or power). The result of this challenge were two concepts for public washrooms designed for our northern climate. We will be testing potential safety concerns, on-site integration, as well as general public acceptance and comfort as part of the overall City of Edmonton Public Washrooms Strategy.


Who is this designed for?

This prototype targets the general public, vulnerable populations and persons with disabilities.

Why This Group?

Vulnerable populations - This user group are core users of public washrooms but also have the hardest time accessing washrooms due to different social stigmas, poverty barriers and inadequate services. We believe this group is an important one to address with the design of our buildings due to the lack of services available to them.

Persons with Disabilities - This user group contains a diverse range of people. In most cases, they are defined as people who are not able to operate within the standard structure of typical washrooms. They require more space for movement, additional handrails and support structures along with many other considerations. This user group is important in consideration of public washrooms due to the agenda of ETS’s “accessibility for all model”, where they strive to maintain the incorporation of all groups living in the Edmonton area. This demographic is represented throughout all of the neighbourhoods and are not as highly represented in the many older public spaces.

General Public - This group consists of users who participate in the environment within the neighborhoods. This group mostly consists of but is not limited to families, late night restaurant and bar users, people with active lifestyles and tourists. These populations are largely influenced by the activities and commercial buildings located in the neighborhoods and consist of populations inside and out of the neighborhoods. The majority of this user group would use the public washrooms only in dire situations, as they are more likely to used private business washrooms instead. The grey area within this population would be the late night restaurant and bar users as alcohol can attract the user to publicly urinate if it is more accessible than public/private facilities.

What's Next?

This prototype was developed past the initial table top presentation through role playing mock interviews in the following steps:

  1. Develop the intercept survey questions.

  2. 3D print Public Washroom Prototype

  3. Field Test prototype model attached to ETS Bus Stop at Beaver Hills House Park
    -  Coordinate with ETS and Civic Events
    Engage passerby with intercept surveys

  4. Debrief data collected during field test and report back

The project team field tested the prototype on April 25th, 2018.  A 3D model of the public washroom prototype was printed and attached to a temporary ETS bus shelter at Beaver Hill House Park and passerby were engaged with intercept surveys.

Prototype team members explained what was happening and interviewed community members to find out how public washrooms are changing the social dynamic downtown.  How developments downtown need to consider mode then just the resident who will be occupying them. People were concerned with the overall safety and security but acknowledged the need for public washrooms.

Our Team

Eric Champagne
Jennifer Fan
Rebecca Stasiuk
Juliusz Slaski
Colleen MacCuish
Marcus Van Vliet
Christophe Duchesne
Greig Rasmussen: University of Alberta
Robert Lederer: University of Alberta
David Holdsworth: City of Edmonton,
Adam Kebede: City of Edmonton
Raffaella Loro: City of Edmonton