In response to Jenifer Pitman's letter, 'Loo designs have room for improvement' (aj 13.01.00), concern over the falling space standards in women's public wc cubicles was one of the reasons prompting Women's Design Service (wds) to thoroughly investigate this subject about 10 years ago.
We were appalled, and unfortunately not surprised, to find that women had never been consulted about the design of public wcs and that there were many misconceptions about how we use them. After extensive consultation, wds published At Women's Convenience, a set of comprehensive guidelines on how to design wcs for women, and baby-change facilities, and has subsequently advised many service providers.
We are now noticing im-provements in the wc facilities provided by some larger commercial outlets, and neglect in those provided by many of the 'design-conscious' establishments, which should know better. Many of the trendier cafe/wine bars are offenders, and a recent visit to the cramped and unhygienic conditions in the women's wcs at London's prestigious Institute of Contemporary Arts (ica) was a particularly depressing experience. It is time that all those involved in revamping interiors of public buildings extend their attention to the wcs, and get the practicalities right as well as the image.
Sue Cavanagh, London EC1
NB: Women's Design Service's
website is www.wds.org.uk