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Building Products April 2017

BATHROOMS AND KITCHENS LESSONS TO LEARN Research suggests that the state of washrooms in schools is resulting in pupils avoiding using the facilities. Phil Wise looks at the issue and comes up with suggestions to overcome this reluctance. When it comes to private bathrooms APRIL 2017 | BUILDING PRODUCTS 41 consumers are looking for that luxurious spa-like experience, a welcoming place for them to relax after a hard day at work. Architects and designers are more and more asked to recreate these calm and welcoming environments for their commercial clients, paying close attention to the design and product specification. However, frequently the appearance of commercial washroom design is neglected and overlooked, and facilities are often old, dirty and smelly. Washroom design and the state of the facilities have a great impact on their visitors – in restaurants and hotels an unkempt washroom facility can cost the organisation customers; in schools, for example, it affects pupils’ wellbeing and actual performance in the classroom. As the Bog Standard revealed in its ERIC campaign, a quarter of children in England are refraining from using the school washrooms because they are ‘dirty, old and smelly’. The risk with so-called toilet avoidance can result in chronic constipation, incontinence and urinary infections, all issues that can negatively impact pupil’s experience and performance at school. One way to efficiently tackle this is by paying attention to design and specifying materials to create welcoming and attractive washroom facilities fit for purpose. Of the 29,000 schools in Britain, 80% is beyond its shelf life. With nearly 1,000 local authority schools and more than 100 academy trusts in England now in debt, schools are torn between the need to balance their budgets and offering high-quality learning environments for their staff and pupils. To add to this situation, the sector will be strained further with the future implementation of this year’s Budget and as the National Audit Office’s estimation of additional 400,000 school places needed by 2018-2019 to accommodate all school pupils. The school system is under an undeniable stress, however, good design can help schools lower their maintenance and running costs, achieving a positive overall performance. Research found that school design can effectively enhance pupil’s health and development, while helping retain staff. As the recent RIBA study highlighted: “Good design is not just about appearance; it makes a noticeable difference to outcomes and frees up resources.” The research has indeed emphasised that poor-designed learning environments can have a strain on students and teachers’ productivity, behaviour and morale – presenting design, including soft furnishing and colours, as Continued on page 42 >>>


Building Products April 2017
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