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National Institute of Design cordially invites you to lecture 'PUBLIC TOILETS FOR INDIAN SLUMS' by PROF. ABIR MULLICK at 5.00 pm on 23rd June 2011 at NID Auditorium, Main Campus, Paldi, Ahmedabad.


Abir Mullick National Institute of Design 992-492-3820



Indias economic growth rate is among the fastest in the world, chiefly due to information technology and knowledge-based industries. However, an estimated 55% of all Indians, or close to 600 million people, still do not have access to any kind of toilet. Among those who are most affected are those who live in urban slums and rural areas. Toilets are unavailable to most Indians; 54% of urban slums dwellers do not have access to toilets and 74% of the rural population defecates outdoor. While local governments have attempted to provide free community toilets, they are almost unusable due to lack of maintenance. Poor sanitation is prevalent; about 535,000 children under five years of age die each year due to diarrhoea and other infections due to poor sanitation, lack of hygiene, and open defecation that contaminates drinking water. Also, 73 million working days are lost every year due to sickness resulting from consumption of contaminated water and no sanitation. The current technology for public latrines is seriously outdated requiring 750,000 scavengers to collect excreta from 13 million bucket latrines.5 Only 15% schools have toilets, resulting in high female drop-out rate due feminine and


At the National Institute of Design, Abir Mullick, Professor, Georgia Institute of technology, USA researched the needs of public toilet users living in urban slums. Prof. Mullick is a Fulbright-Nehru Scholar in-Residence at NID. Using multi-modal research methods, Prof.



Mullick and his team (Shikha Agarwal, Ashok Kumar and Pushplata Swarnkar) have studied the needs of independent users (those who can operate on their own), dependent users (elderly, children and people with disabilities) as well as care providers of children (parents) and dependent adults. Since most public toilets neither support safe use by disabled users nor allow receiving care, their work has adopted a universal design approach, ensuring that all users receive equal access to public toilets.

Design Thinking/Intentions

Intended users For men, women, children, elderly, people with disabilities For independent users, dependent users and caregivers For standing users, seated users, children and crawlers Customizable environment Enable creating various stall sizes for independent, dependent and interdependent use Locate faucet, storage, electricity and support within easy access Special attention Create outdoor like stalls for habitual experience Maximize ventilation and daylight through use perforated walls and roofs Consider cultural issues like gender (men vs women), family, caste, waste, privacy, assistance Attend to safety issues like lockable doors, better illumination, non-slippery floors, wall supports Allow combining toilet / bath stalls when needed to enlarge space for family use and for socialization Attend to issues of abuse (open faucets), vandalism (broken hardware) and scarcities (electricity) Reduce water use, generate grey-water and harvest rain water Odour - incorporate adequate ventilation and water seal like in WC for prevent door Use solar energy for hot water supply Technology Devote attention to manufactureable materials and technology for off-site production Incorporate plumbing, drainage, sewage, water and waste technology in stall design Toilet Incorporate wall supports and storage Provide better body support in squat latrines Design squat latrine for many different age groups and body sizes Maximum daylight, airflow and ventilation Design for water economy Provide recessed lighting



Include better floor drainage and around squat pan Provide door handle and locks for all users Incorporate dustbins for easy throw and maintenance Bathing Facility Incorporate wall support and storage for accessories, clothes and personal belongings Include seating for older people and children Provide easy-to-open faucets, door handle and locks for all users Better drainage Recessed lighting Dustbins for easy throw and maintenance Sink Built-in support, accessory holder Allows childcare For standing users and crawlers Facilitates use by children Hallway Wide enough for walking and wheelchair use Built-in drainage for floor cleaning and drying Built-in seats for waiting users Seats allow luggage storage and locking Urinals Outdoor like urinals for standing men, boys and crawlers Allows washing for those bound by cultural/religious reasons Allow storage of personal belongings Other Space for robing/disrobing Equal number of toilets for men and women Improved colour and appearance for higher visibility

The Design

The design of new public toilets is a modern solution to an age-old problem grounded in history, tradition and social norms. Here are some important features of the public toilets: 1. They are factory made prefab units, installed on site. The off-site construction and on-site installation allows setting large number of public toilets and address the shortage. 2. The prefab units are bathroom and toilet stalls; they can be installed individually or interconnected to form a combined structure. When used individually, the stalls serve as family units; in small cluster they are for shared use; and in large interconnected groups, they are for



community and public use. 3. When stalls are interconnected for public use, a scaffold like structure is attached in front to serve as walkway. Depending on the weather condition, the walkway is covered or left open-to-sky. 4. The stalls can be stacked up to create two storied public toilets. In that case a per-fab staircase is attached to access the upper floor. 5. On the outside, the scaffolding serves as a large billboard for advertising and for public service messages. This offers a revenue generating opportunity. 6. The stalls are extremely well ventilated and lit, to simulate the outdoor experience and invite use. 7. The stalls roof allows for easy drainage and rain water harvesting. The folded roof provides maximum strength and facilitates solar collection. 8. The stall interiors can be mass customized so users (children, adults, men, women, the elderly and people with disabilities) can tailor them to suit their individual and collective needs. Made up of panels like storage panel, faucet panel and support panel; they (the panels) can be organized in many ways to create many different interiors choices fundamental to universal design. 9. The toilet interiors have supports for those who need. They also have faucet and clothes hangers. These positions of features can be reorganized if needed. 10. The bathroom interior has seating options for those who need it. They also have faucet, shelves and clothes hangers. Everything can be organized. 11. The new squat latrine incorporates a buttock support; this helps maintain seated posture. The latrine also addresses sitting needs of children, pregnant women and people with disabilities. 12. The latrine incorporates many water saving technologies including low water use and easy disposal of human waste. 13. The walls have hollow core structure to incorporate plumbing and electricity. 14. The bathroom and toilet stalls are made up of plastic material to withstand mass use, address cleaning problems and prevent damage from public use. 15. The floors in stalls and in walkways are perforated for hose cleaning and easy drainage. 16. Inspired by the wireless cell phone technology, the public toilets do not require physical technology for waste disposal. Underneath the stalls are holding tanks that collect human waste in air tight, impervious containers. Periodically the human waste from the tanks is sucked out and hauled away in vans fitted with mobile suction technology. This frees public toilets from the limitations of sewer and septic and they can be set up anywhere. 17. The human waste can be used to generate gas at remote locations. 18. Based on an economically sustainable model, the new toilets have the ability to create five new businesses, increase tax base and generate new employment: a) mass production of toilet stalls, b) sales, service and maintenance of toilets, c) waste collection, d) use of waste for gas generation, and e) use of scaffolding for advertising.