client10 School “Theodor Trayanov”
usersPrimary, secondary and high school school students
The headmaster commissioned the transformation of the WCs on all floors of the school. School toilets are a sensitive space - intimate but also social, associated with gossip, reunions, shame, fears and a whole palette of emotions. Students of different ages meet here for the first time, and statistics show that a large percentage of school violence occurs in restrooms, largely due to their layout: а series of transitional spaces that are not accessible by eye contact. Not surprisingly, many children avoid them, which carries a number of health consequences.
In the discovery phase, multiple observations and experiences revealed their multi-layered function:
- A source of water, with numerous queues of students with empty bottles in between classes
- A place of diversion from the classes, used for competitions and water sprinkling
- A gathering place for teenagers: a backdrop for tik-tok videos and a platform for various forms of self-expression, including vandalism
- An intimate space, especially during puberty. It also serves for make-up and beautification
- A workplace - with the intensity of use of the toilets during the inter-school hours, the hygienists, who very often they are elderly women, find it difficult to carry the heavy bucket of water between the floors and keep up with the pace of the students
The existing boys' and girls' toilets were narrow, dark, hidden mazes where students clustered and blocked the way. The lack of visual contact from the corridor created the conditions for violence, and the smells were repulsive and made the experience unbearable.
We radically altered their functional layout: we opened them up to the common space to create a sense of spaciousness and to allow teachers to cast a glance at them between classes. We moved the washbasins on the wall to the common space to separate the flow of students using the toilets and those who just want to pour water or wash their hands. In this mini common space, we designated a place for sitting and for leaving backpacks and clothes.
To create a sense of intimacy, we enlarged the cages and inserted a sink into each one- a small gesture with great effect. To reinforce the feeling of privacy and security, the walls are full-height and solid, rather than the commonly used HPL dividers. This allowed us to unite the boys' and girls' toilets in one space - a layout typical of school toilets in Finnish schools, but revolutionary for Bulgaria.
To emphasize that toilets are a clean and social place that everyone can visit without embarrassment, we created a different theme for each floor, tailored to the age group of the students, and provided opportunities for different activities. Despite significant budget cuts throughout the project, the spaces we created have a distinctive spirit and the students recognize them. The first floor has soft and gentle colors following the colors of the main lobby at the Math Hive STEM Center, and the second and third floors are in earthly tones. The spaces are welcoming and cozy, with mirrors and hanging lamps above them, and the fourth floor at the high school has a wall for selfies.