Mostly everyone has had the need to use a public toilet at some point. And the anxiety of using a restroom in an overcrowded or uncomfortable area can be very high.

A number of urban planners, architects and councils have experimented with designs that address these stressful situations. The main issues to be addressed are cleanliness, accessibility, sanitary facilities, safety, privacy and comfort.

Planning for a public toilet building is key in making the structure easily accessible and comfortable.

 We outline the essential elements in planning a public toilet building:

·       Location

The public toilet facilities must be located in key areas. They should not be too remote or far off from the main traffic area to avoid long distance travel. It should be easily accessible for those with urgency.

The location should also offer proper ventilation, as it is one of the highest priorities in the planning of toilets. An effective ventilation system ensures that vitiated air is quickly extracted. This helps to avoid dampness and subsequent growth of mould on floors and walls.

·       Availability and quality of amenities

The ratio of fittings in male and female toilets should take into consideration the expected user profile. Where equal numbers of both genders are expected, there should be proportionately higher number of fittings in the female toilets. Changing tables and children’s use of toilets should also be kept in mind, while planning on the amenities to be provided.

A one-stop provision of tap, soap dispenser, litterbin and hand-dryer or paper towel dispenser at washbasins is a must for a good design, as it helps in maintenance. This also minimises wetting of floors and offers the ease of keeping the toilet dry and clean.

·       Materials used

Determining toilet renovation cycle will help in deciding on the type of materials used. If a toilet is to be renovated every five years then use materials, which are durable to last for those many years and are resistant to vandalism.

Make sure the material used is sturdy, durable and easy to maintain. They should facilitate easy cleaning and resource conservation. Floor material should ideally be waterproof non-slip surfaces like concrete or tiles.

Durable materials should be used for all fixtures, accessories, and surfaces to withstand heavy usage, excessive weight, and possible abuse. 

·       Universal accessibility

The toilet buildings should be designed around people of all abilities. Children, people in wheelchairs to disabled members of the community, should all be catered for.

The basin in the toilet must be wheelchair compliant, ideally with a knee-operated tap, for ease of use for people in a wheelchair.

·       Signage and Way finding

Directional signs leading to toilets should be clearly present. The location of the signs should be near the entrance to each toilet facility and clearly displayed at noticeable locations in main traffic areas or passageways to direct the public to the toilets. 

One can also get creative with the arrows or writing how many jumps to the toilet building are needed to create engagement.

The exterior of the restroom building can also be clad with local area signage or any other information that the users might find helpful.


·       Safety of amenities

Interior lighting should be provided at all times during operational hours when natural lighting is not available. The facility should be bright enough to illuminate entrances, exits, washing areas, cubicle spaces and other areas where the public may be accessing.

As a security measure, lighting should be directed at areas of concealment or vandalism-prone areas.

When designing public toilets, attention must be paid to architectural elements like walls, partitions and ledges for safety and security of the user.

·       Maintenance

Public restroom facilities should be easy to maintain, as it’s a high traffic area. One of the features we provide is an Auto Locking system that can be programmed to lock and unlock the facility at a certain time. This drastically cuts down on staff time.

Another feature for ease of maintenance is to use our Epoxy floor coating on ground surface of the building. This coating protects the surface against stains and are non-porous.

All public amenity buildings supplied by the Terrain Group are constructed by Modus Australia as they provide low maintenance structures with robust facilities.

 Tom Cook, Project Consultant, Modus Australia said:

“When planning public toilet infrastructure, CPTED guidelines are a critical consideration to ensure the safety of the community. Modus buildings incorporate CPTED principles as standard, with individual cubicles and no solid screens. We recommend toilets are located in the open and doors are faced towards higher traffic areas, to facilitate passive community surveillance and deter anti-social behaviour.”

Offering a broad range of versatile standard configurations and styles, our modular system building designs and materials used allow for easy cleaning and general upkeep, allowing a high level of hygiene to be maintained.