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Our approach

The PTRU holds expertise across many aspects of public toilets including: inclusive design, accessibility, built environment, standards and guidance, equality and equity of provision, public service design and open data for social good.

Our approach includes the use of participatory design, qualitative research methods and interdisciplinary research teams. Our outcomes and outputs focus on real world impact through policy and industry, public engagement and spin-out innovation.

New research

The PTRU has a pipeline of new research proposals covering existing and emerging specialisms within the Centre, such as Inclusive Design, service design, enabling communities, social equity, citizen science and machine-learning.

This builds on 30 years of public toilet research experience held by the research team, funded by cross-Research Councils UK (RCUK) funding, charitable trusts and public sector organisations.

Sharing knowledge

Prof Jo-Anne Bichard speaking at Fifth UN Women Safe Cities and Safe Public Spaces Global Leaders’ Forum, Rabat, Morocco, 2020

We undertake knowledge exchange activities to share research with fellow researchers, sanitation and built environment professionals, and interested members of the public. 

  • A new knowledge exchange platform, Tinkle (Toilets Innovation and New Knowledge Exchange) is in development to bring together existing information and research on toilet provision and design (architecture, service and product), including the PTRU’s project outputs. This aims to reach beyond academia to practising architects and designers, business, public sector, third sector and communities, to identify and develop solutions for inclusive, sustainable toilet provision.
  • Jo-Anne was interviewed by Ergonomist, where the article explores how to make public toilets more inclusive.
  • Jo-Anne spoke to BBC News about on the provision of public toilets relating to Covid-19 and diverse user needs – watch on BBC
  • Publicly Accessible Toilets after COVID-19 (2021) (PDF): In this update to Publicly Accessible Toilets: An Inclusive Design Guide (see panel, right), we show how future toilets can be designed to be more hygienic, and also more accessible and inclusive, as a critical part of public health infrastructure.
  • Jo-Anne and Gail spoke about the work of the PTRU along with an intro to current challenges in public toilet design, as part of HHCD’s Design.Different Week, 12–16 October 2020 – watch the video here:

Past projects

The Great British Public Toilet Map in 2020 https://www.toiletmap.org.uk/
  • Tackling Ageing Continence through Theory, Tools and Technology (New Dynamics of Ageing: led by ESRC)
  • Robust Accessible Toilets (ESRC)
  • The Great British Public Toilet Map (Nominet Trust, Open Data Institute)