When I was traveling in Italy last summer, I noticed that a lot of the restrooms had “stalls” that were more like individual rooms with normal doors. In some cases, the toilets were not reserved for one gender or another – they were just toilets, and the communal sinks were shared by everyone. One big restroom, separate rooms for toilets, one set of sinks – used by anyone who “had to go.” It makes sense if you think about it…I can’t count how many times I’ve stood in line outside of the women’s room while the men’s room was empty.
Last week, one of our specwriters asked me about gender-neutral / gender-inclusive restrooms – common area sinks with full doors into enclosed toilet rooms. He asked whether there was a code change motivating the move to this type of restrooms, and also asked how the hardware on the individual toilet rooms was being addressed. Are privacy sets typical, or locksets, or pulls with deadbolts? Is there a preference for mechanical indicators or indicator lights? Do the doors usually have door closers or spring hinges?
I knew exactly who to ask – YOU. Are you seeing more of these restrooms in your area? If yes, do you know what is driving the change? How do you handle the hardware?
For more information about the use of gender-inclusive restrooms in schools, universities, and other types of facilities, check out this article from Metropolis: Why Architects Must Rethink Restroom Design in Schools.
And if you’re wondering about the signage, here’s an idea from Sam Killermann: Solution for the “Confusing” Gender Neutral Toilet Sign Issue. This would also help avoid embarrassing mistakes in Latin America, where M is for “mujeres” – not for “men.” 🙂
UPDATE: Ron Martinez sent me this photo of a shared restroom that he saw in Cleveland while we were at the DHI Conference. Thanks Ron!