Building Safe Toilet Design into Shared Urban Space

December 10, 2011


Gonville Place Public Conveniences

That’s the title of our paper presented at the recent World Toilet Summit in Hainan, China.   PHLUSH believes that public toilets should be as much a part of the streetscape as sidewalks and street lamps. But as public restroom advocates all over North America know, it’s an uphill battle. For many public officials the best public restroom is one that’s closed.  And with concerns about vandalism, prostitution and terrorism, local authorities are closing them up.

We need facilities designed to give 21st century people privacy and safety in a public setting.  The highly gendered spaces of restrooms designed for the mid-20th century no longer work.  In our continuing research, we argue for unisex facilities which emerge from community design processes and embody Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED).

Lee Clifton of the International Code Council encouraged us to apply CPTED to public toilets.  Susan Mund introduced PHLUSH to transgender youth from a dozen universities.  They know what it is to be bullied and harassed in the men’s or the women’s rooms and are designing gender-neutral facilities on their campuses.  Elaine Scrase, an engineer on the staff of the World Toilet Organization, presented our paper in China with this slideshow overview, including photos of community-designed public toilets that meet PHLUSH Public Restroom Design Principles.

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Our Mission Through education and advocacy, PHLUSH helps local governments and citizen groups to provide equitable public restroom availability and to prepare for a pipe-breaking seismic event with appropriate ecological toilet systems.

Our Vision Toilet availability is a human right and well-designed sanitation systems restore health to our cities, our waters and our soils.

Public Hygiene Lets Us Stay Human (PHLUSH) was founded in Portland, Oregon and today collaborates with groups across North America.

PHLUSH is a member of the World Toilet Organization and a partner in the Sustainable Sanitation Alliance.

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