Trevor Bowers, Director at leading washroom manufacturer, Washroom Washroom explains how to create age-specific washroom facilities which will also withstand the rigours of a high traffic school environment to keep ongoing maintenance costs to a minimum.
As well as catering for children from nursery age through to teenagers, increasing numbers of academies and schools today also open up their facilities to the wider community. It’s therefore more important than ever before to ensure that school washrooms are designed to accommodate the different requirements of end users across a range of ages.
Well designed washrooms can also help promote healthy habits for good hygiene from a young age and can even reduce potential issues such as antisocial behaviour and bullying.
One size doesn’t fit all
The role washrooms play in any nursery, school or university should not be underestimated. It is essential that they’re not just fit for purpose, but can also add value by creating a pleasant environment for students, staff and visitors alike.
Providing separate visitors’ washrooms with upgraded materials, contemporary colour schemes or full height floor-to-ceiling cubicle doors is an ideal solution for situations where a school’s facilities such as library, sports training area or IT suite, are shared with the community.
While full height toilet cubicle doors are perfect for visitors, staff and older students, specialist washroom manufacturers like Washroom Washroom have developed an extensive array of toilet cubicle sizes for younger children. Specially designed low-level toilet cubicle doors are ideal for very young nursery and primary aged children, to make sure they feel at ease while also allowing for a greater degree of adult supervision if necessary.
With different cubicle door heights ranging anywhere from 1050 to 1950mm and up to full floor-to-ceiling doors readily available to those specifying for the education sector, there is a toilet cubicle suited for children of all ages requiring differing levels of supervision.
Adding a splash of colour
Using bright colours to create an attractive space is a good way to ensure young children in particular will feel comfortable which can encourage them to adopt healthy habits from a young age. It has never been easier to incorporate colour into a washroom environment as cubicles, vanities and lockers can all be manufactured in a wide range of colours to suit any design.
The addition of digital screen-printed designs on cubicle doors and partitions as well as on duct panelling, vanities and lockers, will also help create a unique space for children to use. Such designs have the added bonus of being easy to refresh and replace with new prints to create a new look quickly and easily.
Washroom Washroom’s colourful Frutti range of toilet cubicles has been developed specifically for the education sector and demonstrates how colour and screen-printing can be used effectively within a school washroom area. Designed with rounded edges and machined to resemble fruit shapes, the low-level toilet cubicle doors are completed with digitally screen-printed designs to add to the overall fruity effect and provide element of fun within the washroom space.
Creating washrooms built to last
Future maintenance needs – whether planned or reactive – should also be considered at the outset in order to keep ongoing maintenance costs to a minimum for the school. Specifying an integrated duct panelling system, which is easy-to-clean and allows ease of access for future maintenance with minimal disruption, also hides unsightly pipework for a cleaner appearance.
Another key consideration is to ensure any materials chosen are as hardwearing as possible. Solid Grade Laminate (SGL) is extremely durable and provides a hygienic surface which is easy to clean and is totally impervious to water. The solid construction of SGL means that with no substrate, it removes the need for independent edging which could come off, looking unsightly over time. It’s also highly resistant to vandalism, making it perfectly suited to a busy school environment.
While SGL offers a host of practical benefits, this does not come at the expense of aesthetics as it is available in a wide choice of different colours, to complement or tone in with any design scheme. When it comes to cubicles manufactured from SGL these can be specified with matching pilasters to create a flush front finish for a more contemporary appearance.
Minimising the potential for anti-social behaviour
School washroom design also needs to deliver the perfect balance between the level of privacy and supervision required by students and staff. If this isn’t addressed as part of the design, school washrooms can become areas where antisocial behaviour such as vandalism and bullying happen, away from the watchful eyes of school staff and making some no-go areas for younger students. Reimagining the traditional washroom layout and opting for more open layout designs has been shown to reduce such anti-social behaviour.
One option is to create a more open space by removing the door to the washroom areas in favour of individual full height cubicle doors and an open vanity area or unisex self-contained cubicles including a WC, washbasin and hand-drying facilities. The more open design allows washroom areas to be overlooked by staff at all times, reducing the threat of bullying and other common issues, while the full height doors provide the privacy students need.
Another simple step is to install InfraRed sensor-operated taps, which are designed to turn off automatically, to reduce the possibility of costly damage from flooded washbasins if taps are left running by accident. Senor-operated taps also make for a more hygienic washroom area – something which is essential in a school environment where viruses can spread very quickly.
Education, perhaps more than any other sector, can benefit from a bespoke approach to washroom design, to ensure the different needs of various end users are effectively met.