Smart spaces: using technology to improve the washroom experience

Offices Washrooms

Over the last 50 years, technology has developed so quickly that there are many who say this period qualifies as humanity’s fourth industrial revolution. Largely down to digitalisation, this evolution has touched every manufacturing and commercial sector. The bathroom industry is no exception, with countless innovations affecting the way we design and use these sanctuary spaces.

Comparing priorities with expectations

As a pioneer of bathroom technology for more than a century, Armitage Shanks has conducted new research comparing the views of architects and designers with those of end users when it comes to commercial washrooms. The new whitepaper, called Creating Better Washrooms, examines the extent to which we are using technology to improve user experiences and whether A&D professionals are prioritising the right design elements throughout the specification process.

 

The research concluded that there is a strong link between washrooms and employee health and wellbeing, which begs the question: how does technology fit? From the responses found in several areas of our study, it is clear that it plays an integral role in end-user experience.

 

Practical solutions for better environments

The report strongly indicates that designers need to embrace new technologies as they become available if they are to improve sustainability, hygiene, wellbeing and efficiency with in the washroom spaces they create. It shows that today’s end users are increasingly looking for technology that offers practical benefits, such as hands-free systems and self-cleaning toilets, as well as technology that gives them greater control over their environment, including lighting, heating and water temperature.

 

Future specification

When it came to design professional priorities, around 75% surveyed said they expected to specify significantly more water, energy and material saving technology in the next decade. This isn’t too surprising as the climate change agenda has become a significant part of public discourse over the last decade.

 

At the same time, it seems designers are also recognising how important technology that improves hygiene and cleanliness is when it comes to end-user satisfaction. Around 40% agree that hands-free technology for flushing and dispensing would have an important influence on washroom design in the next five years.

 

Totally touchless

When presented with the report’s findings, renowned ceramics designer and Armitage Shanks partner Robin Levien suggested that “the most plausible concept we’re moving towards – and already seeing develop – is the totally touchless washroom. This satisfies the desire for the futuristic, while having legitimate health and wellbeing benefits.”

 

In all areas of the washroom, it seems that solutions once considered more domestic or bespoke – such as beauty lighting, hands-free controls and smart technology – are being used more and more in commercial washrooms as designers respond to user preferences and recognise their effectiveness and appeal in a commercial setting.

 

As well as examining key issues around technology in the modern washroom, our Creating Better Washrooms report also includes useful findings on current perceptions around factors such as sustainability, user wellbeing and gender. The conclusion? That sustained collaboration with stakeholders at every stage of the supply chain, as well as end users, is the key to delivering washrooms that go beyond mere function and truly benefit society. It’s something we’re committed to at Armitage Shanks: working with partners and the wider industry to implement evidence-based design so that commercial washrooms not only play a central role in improving profitability, but ask genuinely enhance the lives of those who use them.

 

You can find more insights and exclusive findings by downloading the full Creating Better Washrooms report

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