Which Types of Privacy?
When discussing privacy in the bathroom, there are several ways this subject can be approached.
Toilet privacy can refer to a physical boundary. By this, we mean the user of the washroom has access to an isolated area where they can use the toilet in a discreet manner. It can also refer to privacy for people waiting to use the toilet cubicle or urinal, or who are washing and drying their hands in the washroom area; these users require privacy from those using the cubicles or urinals.
Protecting all users in the washroom with privacy ensures a more hygienic and comfortable experience for everyone.
Where possible, the location of washrooms should also prioritise discretion and privacy, as observed by Alexander Kira in his book The Bathroom, whilst avoiding totally isolated areas as this could pose a danger to users.
Another type of privacy is mental assurance for the user of the toilet that the space they are occupying is private, safe and secure. This is especially important for vulnerable users, including elderly, children, disabled, women, transgender and non-binary users.
The Importance of Toilet Privacy
Requirements for privacy differ depending on the application of the washroom; for example, adult users of washrooms in office environments require minimal supervision compared to pupils in schools, although both sets of users still require their privacy.
Maintaining a level of privacy is important for many reasons. Some of the advantages to privacy in the washroom include:
- Mental health: in public and commercial facilities, washrooms may act as a breakout or quiet space where users can take a moment for themselves in private. Feeling comfortable and safe in the washroom to be able to do this is crucial. Privacy is also essential for minimising any embarrassment felt by users, as well as ensuring those with social anxiety feel comfortable.
- Physical discretion: of course, one of the biggest benefits of privacy when using the washroom is physical discretion.
- Safety and security: having lockable and durable toilet cubicles and washrooms makes for a safe and secure environment. Specifically, privacy can help discourage bullying, peeping, or attacks on vulnerable users.
- Greater inclusivity: Superloos, and other single-use toilets which facilitate privacy, provide greater inclusivity for all users, including disabled, transgender and non-binary people.
UK Legislation on Toilet Privacy
The latest UK legislation (August 2023) on public washrooms makes single-sex washrooms the default in new or majorly refurbished non-domestic private and public buildings, meaning that separate washrooms must be provided for men and women. Superloos, or self-contained and single-use toilets, can also be provided since they offer sufficient privacy for the user.
The exception to this regulation is where space will only allow for a single toilet.
This latest rule places emphasis on the privacy and dignity of users, highlighting the centrality of privacy to toilet cubicle design. However, it will also reduce queue times and demand for washroom facilities that were previously unisex, and provide quicker access for those that may need it, such as pregnant women and elderly users.
Design Considerations for Encouraging Toilet Privacy
There are many ways to improve restroom privacy; however, this should be done in consideration of differing privacy needs, which are dependent on the user and location of the washroom.
Excelsior specialises in bespoke washroom manufacture and installation; we work alongside architects to create quality washrooms that fulfil all your users’ needs – including privacy concerns.
Private Toilet Cubicles
Excelsior’s ranges keep user privacy in mind. In particular, our Superloo range is a self-contained, locking system which should only be occupied by a single user at one time.
We also provide full-height solutions – these floor-to-ceiling cubicles provide complete user privacy – alongside cubicles with floor clearance for surveillance where applicable, such as in schools. Our range of cubicless ensure we can meet privacy, surveillance, and emergency release considerations of all types of sectors, including education, office spaces, leisure centres, hospitals and more.
Anti-vandalism materials should be incorporated into the design of your cubicle. Our Solid Grade Laminate is a low maintenance and easy-to-clean material that discourages negative associations being made with the washroom, which could lead to anti-social behaviour and the violation of privacy in restrooms.
Our anti-peep channels, which can be installed in cubicle doors, further discourages unwarranted peeping through cubicles and increases the privacy of your cubicle design.
Other products include privacy screens, suitable for men’s urinals, which offer increased privacy and comfort for male users, as well as occupancy indicator signs.
It is recommended that toilets be placed in discrete areas, ensuring privacy when entering and existing the facilities; this can be achieved through dignified signage and doors separating washroom spaces from main communal areas.
The location of your washroom facilities should also allow for natural surveillance, which may be carried out by authorised persons to ensure restroom users are safe and well; this means isolated and dark environments are not appropriate and can increase the risk of dangerous situations.
However, the discretion of the location must be considered alongside the toilet facilities being easy to find and accessible for users.
Acoustic control should be considered when designing washrooms and cubicles with toilet privacy in mind. This means both the cubicles and the washroom itself should help to contain noise levels for the privacy of those using the cubicles and those using the rest of the building.
Full height cubicle systems can help segment noises within the washroom, offering comfort and dignity for users.
When contemplating the interior design of your washroom, home touches can maximise the comfort felt by users. This includes incorporating company colours into restrooms for a bright and inviting atmosphere; providing hygiene accessories for users; as well as ensuring your washroom is kept clean and has sufficient ventilation for a fresh environment.
For washroom cubicle solutions, Excelsior provides a complete manufacture and installation service, working closely with our customers to ensure their washrooms offer privacy, adhering to the latest regulations and offering complete user satisfaction.
Talk to a member of our team today to see how we can transform your space.
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