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This is an on-going project to design Public Toilets on 3 Stations for the Mumbai Railways in collaboration with an NGO (Triratna). These proposed public toilets are BOT (Build Operate Transfer) schemes where a single organization will be in charge for re-building the toilet block as well as its operation and maintenance for a specific period of time. This has been perceived as an opportunity not only to revisit the aesthetics of a public toilet but also its structure and the way people use it. The case studies of existing toilets and particularly cost of construction and maintenance has played a significant role in shaping a new model. The three toilets are at stations - Mahim, Andheri and Bandra. The sites of the first two follow the same criteria as on any other railway station. The toilet site

is on the #1 platform that has the rear edge facing the outside of the station making laying and maintance of sewage/water lines more convenient as opposed to a toilet block on the mid-platform. The toilet buildings could be longer parallel to the platform length, however occupying minimum width of the platform. We discovered in time that there was an urgent pending requirement of construction of public toilets on 150 stations in total. Hence, the design evolved to become modular so that it could be planted on any site, reconfigured as per need. The third site is Bandra Station. The toilet lies just outside the station and is used by commuters and outsiders. The new toilet in this case had to respond to the specific site conditions. So, a specific design scheme was generated.

The following are extracts from the preliminary presentations. They vary in their layout as they were made at different points of time. This is a basic scheme, however, the final design will have to be further refined, even incorporating rain water harvesting and other such ideas as per context that make the toilets more sustainable. These toilets are not ideal designs nor the most optimised, however they have been born out of a process in an urban context. Perhaps learning from these can result in creating toilets that can be mass deployed. After all, sanitation is one of the major concerns today in rural and urban conditions.

Design team - Rupali Gupte Rohan Shivkumar Ankit Bhargava Triratna (NGO) Client- Mumbai Railways Contact-

Existing Toilets at 2 stations INITIAL REQUIREMENTS Men’s toilets 5 urinals, 3 WCs, 2 Baths Women’s toilets 2 WCs, 1 Bath

Station #1 - Mahim



- Inadequate natural lighting and ventilation - Poor circulation for users

Key Concerns in the existing toilets brought out through case studies 1. Foul smell in and around the toilet since they were open at the top or not properly ventilated 2. Use of 250mm thick brick walls in the limited area on the railway platforms reduced internal area further. 3. Inadequate lighting 4. Poor circulation

Station #2 - ANDHERI Plan

- No roof. Thus spread of foul smell all around - Poor circulation for users - Low maintenance

Key Concerns for the new toilets 1. Cost of construction to be kept to a minimum 2. Low maintenance 3. Minimum scope for vandalization 4. Maximise advertisement space, as it will be the primary source of revenue 5. Efficient circulation to be able to handle high traffic of users.




... to be replaced with by materials that allowed quick assembly and easy maintaince. We chose to work with steel and translucent Acrylic/ Marine board making up partitions and the exterior surfaces.

Case studies showed that the existing toilets had 230mm thick walls that were not load bearing, and obstructed light and ventilation. So, as a first step, the toilet structure was stripped of any unnecessary walls....


LATER REQUIREMENTS Men’s toilets 5 urinals, 3 WCs, 2 Baths + 1 , Space for caretaker, Women’s toilets 2 WCs, 1 Bath +1, space for caretaker

Additionally, the minimum height was to be kept at 10 feet, and the toilet was to preferably accommodate amenities like public seating / newspaper stands / drinking water / advertising.


Facade is made an independent entity acting as a buffer between the toilet and platform, as well as a space for advertising/ public amenities.



The structure of the toilet is streamlined and accommodated between two parallel surfaces, maximizing its footprint on the given site and its frontage.

The roof material is translucent to maximise light, while a false ceiling is introduced in select areas such as above the caretaker’s seat and the wash basins to accommodate additional lights and a fan for the caretaker.

FINAL DRAWINGS The commodes have been designed such that they can be isolated and ventilated independently (by continuing the partitions to the roof ), thus solving the problem of foul smell in the wash areas.

M 3 WC 2 Bath


2 WC 1 Bath

5 Urinals

Section AA False ceiling


Public seating

Section BB

W 4 WC 1 Bath


M 2 WC 1 Bath

Maximized clear space Caretaker positioned so as and view of the mirror to be able to see who gains access to Paid Women’s Toilet, Paid Men’s Toilet Unpaid Urinals area

7 Urinals

Changing area with storage and mirror

Caretaker’s room View ‘a’

Rear partitions for commode area continue to the ceiling in order to block any penetration of smell into the wash areas

The exterior surface is a sandwich wall of 2 boards held by a vertical steel section in between which all the water pipes will run. In case of maintenance problems/ leakage/ damage, all that needs to be done is remove the board and attend to it.

This toilet was designed as a system, which could be replicated. The materials preferred in this case are acrylic/ Marine board sheets because they could bring in diffused light and be easy to cut and maintain. However, the skin is independent of the interior and can be interchanged as per context, whether its prefabricated concrete panels, or green wall or Khas + louvers (as used in desert coolers).

Sandwich Acrylic/ marine board removable panels

Floor, sanitary fittings, caretaker’s room

Acrylic/ marine board panel partitions

Steel grid, with translucent roof, vents, exhaust fans fitted as per required position

False ceiling, front facade advertisement surface

OPTION 2 Using the same model, this is an example of how the physical structure can be adapted to changing context. In this model, each surface has been looked at as a potential advertisement space so the toilet is no more automatically associated with being a dirt smelly space but feels more like a pavilion. One particular size of the advertisement size is meant for standardization as well as for easy promotion.

Station #3 - Bandra



public toilet  

public toilet for the mumbai railways