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Women need loo space for girly stuff

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The letter by Selwyn Goldsmith (aj 6/13.8.98) touching on the tricky question of the numbers of loos for women in public places raises important points. Mr Goldsmith will undoubtedly know that the minimum number of facilities for both sexes is laid out in the Building Regulations cp6465 1994 and that the figures quoted are very similar to those in the Metric Handbook, in turn based on the 1963 Office, Shops and Railway Premises Act, the glc regs etc - and are really woefully inadequate. But, besides the numbers question, there are other problems to be answered when trying to solve the conundrum.

One, crucial in an historic building, is the area and location available for such necessities, and these in turn determine numbers. The other is the requirement for each sex - whereas male provision does not normally need more than a urinal, a wc and washing facilities and mirrors, it is generally desirable that, in upmarket buildings, for the female there needs to be an area which will allow her to revive her make-up, adjust or change her dress, and generally give her the opportunity to visually make the most of herself. That area needs to be larger than an area taken up by, say, a male urinal, with the result that, although overall the female lavatory area may often be larger than the males', not all women in need of loos at crucial times can be accommodated in comfort. In the particular case of the Banqueting House, conscious of this anomaly, we specified cisterns of a special extra-fast-filling type, which goes some way towards helping to overcome the problem. A similar solution was introduced by us at Goldsmiths' Hall in London, where the designated area was also restricted.

In general one can only agree with Mr Goldsmith that something ought to be done, and starting with Part M of the Building Regs is as good as any.


Donald Insall Associates

London SW1

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