For commercial restrooms, don’t choose between form or function
Don't wash your design vision down the drain; AIA partner Zurn Industries interviewed 150 architects to solve common design problems found in commercial restrooms
Design revolves around the people who use the space. Though designers want to turn heads, at the end of the day functionality is a top priority. When it comes to selecting hand-washing systems for commercial restrooms, you may feel like functionality ties your hands, or that you must compromise your design focus.
There’s much to factor in: spatial and structural constraints, user dislikes and demands, and foreseeable wear and tear. Whether it’s a hotel, business, or retail restroom, you’re working in high-traffic environments with high turnover; durability comes with the territory. It can get crowded; space can be limited. Everyone is in autopilot, on the go, and moving along in seamless chaos.
But don’t wash your vision down the drain for practicality’s sake. As we think more outwardly about the connections between people and their environment, it can help solve for the total user experience, using form to elevate function. After completing over 10,000 research hours and conducting 150 architect interviews, we identified how commercial restroom users interact with hand-washing systems and transformed negative experiences into positive ones.
Problem: There’s nowhere to set my stuff.
Solution: Look for a hand-washing system that has clean, built-in ledges for purses, cups, keys, phones, and whatever people carry with them. People should be able to easily set their things down on a flat, splash-free surface.
Problem: There’s water all over the place.
Solution: With your run-of-the-mill options, basin water tends to collect where it isn’t wanted, usually around areas where users wash their hands or at the sink edges. The ideal design should whisk water away toward an individual drain, not past other users at a hand-washing basin. Add water flow to your checklist when specifying a system.
Problem: I don’t want people in my personal space.
Solution: Make it easy for people to wash up and be on their way. Soap dispensers can be built into hand-washing systems, so people aren’t reaching across each other while using the faucet. Dripping water all over the floors means constant cleanup for the maintenance staff and the risk that someone might slip. Select a hand-washing system that features individualized stations with faucets, soap dispensers, and well-designed basins. Keep water contained, and users from bumping into one another.
By focusing on the full user experience—how a person interacts within the space and the fixtures you’ve installed for them—the design transforms into clean lines and sophisticated style. Even in commercial restrooms, don’t compromise on your vision. Take the steps needed to solve problems and elevate functionality, while still keeping form at the forefront.
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