Issue date: 31 July 2003

ISSUE DATE: 31/07/03

Dr Clara Greed, Professor of Inclusive Urban Planning from the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of the West of England, has embarked on a two year EPSRC funded project to investigate the role of city centre public toilets in achieving long-term sustainability and making cities more accessible to all. As co-principal-investigator with Professor Julienne Hanson from University College London and partners at the Universities of Salford, Sheffield Hallam and the London Institute the researchers will look at city centre conveniences in relation to the impact of the Disability Discrimination Act.

Professor Greed said, “This exciting project has attracted funding of £200,000. It is part of a much wider national research programme entitled VivaCity 2020, a consortium led by the University of Salford attracting £2.75million EPSRC funding. Local Authorities should bring toilets up to standard to meet new disabled access requirements but often the cost of doing this means that facilities are being closed rather than improved or rebuilt.

“We will be working with focus groups including representatives of users and providers in different cities in order to develop a sustainable planning strategy which has at its heart the priority of access for all.”

In the new 24-hour city there are numerous conflicts which need to be resolved. Priority has in some cases focused on meeting the toilet needs of male late night drinkers in the form of the ‘pop up ‘ male street urinals. This, argues Professor Greed, is at odds with the needs of the majority diverting resources to males users and away from the needs of women who have less public loos than men to start with, and the population as a whole

Professor Greed continues, “From previous research it has been found that 60% of women and 30% of all men never go into the city centre at night. Although there is undoubtedly a problem with male urination after binge drinking in City Centres we believe that toilet planning needs to meet the needs of all potential users and that means everyone male and female, able and disabled. Our research will look at ways of improving planning so that toilet provision is approached with the universal needs of entire population as prime consideration. We will be looking at what it is that users want with the proposed outcome of producing design guidelines, design codes and Charter mark criteria

Professor Hanson is a specialist researcher in areas relating to cities and housing, space syntax, and on meeting the needs of those with disabilities alongside everyone else. She said “We are working towards a universal approach to design and we will be working closely with the Centre for Accessible Environments and the British Toilet Association’ to ensure that proposals meet design considerations heralded by these campaign groups.”

The project began in July 2003 and runs for two years.


Editor’s notes

Professor Clara Greed works as a researcher in the Faculty of the Built Environment at the University of the West of England. She is a Committee member of the British Toilet Association; Chair of the International Toilet Standards Committee of the World Toilet Organisation and Member of the British Standards Revision Committee 6456 on sanitary installations.

Professor Greed’s book on public toilets, ‘Public Toilets: Inclusive Urban Design’, Architectural Press, Elsevier, Oxford was published in June 2003. This book follows a long line of over ten books developing the themes of social aspects of planning, urban design and urban policy. Professor Greed is a town planner and chartered surveyor whose main interested are in the fields of the social aspects of planning and urban design.

Professor Greed has previously undertaken research funded by Nuffield on the differences between user and provider perspectives on public toilet provision and is also involved in a range of research on equality and diversity aspects of the built environment professions and town planning. This includes previous ESRC research on the changing composition of the construction industry, and current research commissioned by the RIBA on ‘why women are still leaving architecture’ and RPTI research on mainstreaming gender issues into town planning policy.

Professor Hanson is an architect whose research interests embrace a wide range of issues related to domesticity, the design of housing and the social construction of people’s homes and neighbourhoods. She is Professor of House Form and Culture at Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment, University College London, where she directs an innovative MSc in Housing Futures. Recent projects include profiling the UK’s housing stock with the needs of older people in mind, investigating the housing, support and care needs of older people with impaired vision and studying the design and quality of life variables in a range of residential care settings. She was the Managing Chair of the Built Environment Expert Advisory Group for Age Concern England'’ Millennium Debate of the Age, 1996-2000. Publications include Defining Domesticity, (with Kellaher and Carmona) Housing Corporation, to appear in spring 2003, Decoding Homes and Houses, Cambridge University Press, 1998, and (with Hillier) The Social Logic of Space, Cambridge University Press, 1984. She can be contacted at The Bartlett School of Graduate Studies, (1-19 Torrington Place Site) University College London, Gower Street, London WC1E 6BT, by e-mail at j.hanson@ucl.ac.uk or via www.3rdagehomes.org

VivaCity 2020 is a £2.75 million university-based research consortium headed by the University of Salford in partnership with UCL, Sheffield Hallam, the London Institute and UWE. Funded by The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), which is the UK Government’s leading funding agency for research and training in engineering and the physical sciences.

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