18 Mar 2008

character of english and japanese seen through the design of toilets

About a year ago, when I went for lunch at a pub with my colleagues, one of them said, “the toilet in this pub is without a entrance door, which is a nice design.” In fact, as he said, a door-less toilet is unusual in this country, even in larger public buildings.

In Japan, nowadays, door-less design for toilets is commonly used particularly for public buildings. As Japan is full of newly built modern buildings, it is understandable that it hasn’t yet happened a lot in England. However, I assume this is partly because of the difference of people’s character in both countries.

It seems that, people in England are more concerned about privacy, whilst Japanese are more concerned about cleanliness. When we design a door-less toilet we have to consider the things such as visibility from outside and soundproof, and if a toilet does have an entrance door you have to touch it even after you disinfect your hands!

I also think the difference is reflecting the reliability on ventilation. In England, generally, mechanical ventilation system is relatively poor and not reliable, so people tend to rely on natural ventilation by opening up the windows. So, probably from the fear of spread of toilet smell, architects may not be keen to design door-less toilets.

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