The changing form of washrooms
Washrooms or restrooms as they are quaintly termed in the States are evolving. Once upon a time washrooms outside the home were binary being either ‘male or female’.
Then came the welcome development where ‘disabled toilets’ were introduced. They might have been better termed enabling toilets. As the population grows older more of the population will have mobility issues requiring higher toilets or facilities adapted to wheel chairs. The trend now in many locations is to incorporate them in existing washrooms to avoid the creation of a third room. They are therefore shared by all. The thrust is towards more inclusivity.
Recently some motorway service stations have introduced child size toilets. That is welcome for families travelling with small children who are capable at home of doing their own business but face having to use adult toilets in public toilets.
On the continent some offices and restaurants have moved to one room where the individual toilet cubicles are either male or female or even both. The washbasins are in a shared unisex space. Women generally are not enthused by the idea of applying or touching up make up in a shared space.
Plans in Ireland by the Dept of Education for ‘gender neutral toilets’ produced a huge media reaction. These washrooms feature cubicles and a common washbasin area adjoining them. Urinals are dispensed with. It remains to be seen how this will progress.
So, washrooms and their evolution, are a reflection of societal changes in a broader context.