History Of Sanitation
In our present lives, in hi-technology living spaces or homes, most of us spend our days indoors. Commonly, a home physically means an indoor place, inside space, a room, an apartment, a mobile home such as trailer or van or a structure that has a roof and walls strong enough to protect human beings from unpredictable danger such as intruders or natural disasters. The idea of constructing a shelter began with primitive people: “Many centuries ago man first began to gather raw materials and put them together to make shelter against the weather and the ravaging of beasts” (Allen 3).
We are born in a place called the hospital and may possibly die there one day. Most of us spend some time out of doors, for instance, walking from place to place, moving from air to ground or water transports, participating in special events such as concerts and sporting activities or spending time at the beach. Some operational activities still involve being outside, while indoor activities are increasing. When we travel, we say that we are going out, but cars, trains, buses, ships and airplanes are almost as completely enclosed as buildings. There are closed spaces that appear as a form of transporters, moving spaces that can carry people from place to place.
Deep in the suburbs, synthetic forests, living spaces or homes are extremely private environments. People desire to create pleasant surroundings. The enjoyable environment of the home can be divided for functionality into separate rooms: the bedroom, kitchen, dining room, living room and bathroom.
Think about the place in our homes that provides the most relaxation, privacy and personal pleasurable experience in which we can enjoy spending considerable time. In today’s home, this might be the bathroom. Western traditions and culture have not made it easy for people to enjoy this private space. But times are changing, and the bathroom is finally being appreciated for personal experience. The current bath concept is a reflection of appreciation and a wonderful combination of the best of the cleansing world.
The bathroom in every home should be kept clean. However, research for this project indicates that there are many homes in which the tub is never washed after bathing. The person takes a bath, gets out, dresses and walks away, leaving the tub for someone else to clean.
As we know, the bathroom is a place where we perform many of our most personal rituals, from brushing to bathing to dressing, because the traditional home offers bathrooms with specific functions. However, social trends and culture have changed the behavior of bathing, because of limited space and the pace of urban life. Taking a shower is more common, and less time consuming. An innovator rethinks the products that we are familiar with in our daily lives and rebuilds these relationships with understanding.
Most of the people in the cities are completely dependent on all kinds of jobs in the informal sector, which are often temporary and highly competitive. They have to survive on low incomes without any guarantees. People in contemporary society are dealing with tight schedules and unpredictable environments. They have left behind their toys and their childlike sense of wonder. Since the growth of telecommunication, information moves faster than people, who are left continually handling changing logistics.
Generally, the city has lost its place. It tends to be everywhere and nowhere. Living conditions in metropolitan areas are overcrowded. Moreover, the fast growing density of population has not only been affecting lifestyles but also facilities. People who live in metro areas become used to the way that the world is without awareness. Many people are living in single room apartments as small as eight or nine square meters of studio dimensions that they have to use as a combined living room, dining room and bedroom, depending on their personal space solution.
In the construction and space division process, architects previously planned and designed building environments that were expected to provide most of the necessities of human metabolism: clean air for breathing and clean water for drinking, food preparation, cleansing and elimination of waste.
Because the bodily process of discharging waste matter is one of the most important processes for human beings, the bathroom unit is automatically built and controlled by regulations and the use of space set off as a separately functioning unit. Interior designers have traditionally designed bathrooms by permanently installing the fundamental components such as the washbowl, the tub and the toilet in the limited space. As a result, the use of this space is unintentionally limited, as well, as a bathroom area.
However, bathroom design is undergoing considerable innovation these days. The most obvious reason is that the field of aesthetics itself has been transformed. My proposal pushes the function of the bathroom to a new extreme, allowing people, spaces, and domestic functions new potentials for hybrid activities. It takes into account the needs of people in the living space and adapts the bathroom to these needs.
I. A history of bathing
Water, whether it has a positive meaning because it provides sustenance or negative meaning because it can be very destructive, is the most basic element in the world of human beings. In ancient times, bathing was believed to be healthy and rejuvenating. It was considered as a special reward for heroes, warriors, gods and kings.
The first known bathtub was found in Greece in the great palace of Knossos, most likely built for the legendry King Minos around 1700 B.C. At that time, designers invented impressive technologies that provided water for the tub, including a system of interlocking terra-cotta pipes. Ancient medicine determined that physical exercise and bathing were not only a means to good health but they can be the way to support mind and body. Washing and bathing facilities were introduced in the Greek gymnasium, a place where people went to interact, discuss, cerebrate and relax. While the Greeks created the ritual of social bathing, the Romans created the thermae or giant baths that provided an important public service to the city (hygiene) as well as a space for socializing, political negotiating and business transactions. These thermae were so grand, that they had libraries, lecture halls, cult shrines and promenades like the Greek bathhouse.
In the fourth century A.D., Rome had hundreds of small public baths, magnificent thermae, and public fountains and cisterns (water tanks), as well as scores of private baths. The average Roman used three hundred gallons of water a day. This is nearly what an American family of four uses today. Though there were many baths that were exclusive, the majority of the small baths and thermae were open to anyone who paid the small entrance fee and some were even free.
The Romans made bathing more luxurious than any other culture at any other time. High ceilings were decorated with rich marble veneers. There were some silver basins and spigots (water faucets) and bronze fountainheads. It is no wonder that the typical Roman day included a visit to the public baths.
For a long time, women and men bathed separately. In Pompeii, the two sexes had completely separate facilities. But in Roman baths, the males and females did more than mix. One might say the baths did anything but keep the Roman Empire clean. Every culture has had its own methods of renewal. Before bathing, the ancient Greeks and Romans anointed their naked bodies with olive oil and dusted themselves with sand. Afterward, they rubbed the sand off, removing outer layers of dead skin, and then, using a strigil (a metal blade with a slight curve) scraped off the excess oil before rinsing with water.
During the Ottoman Empire, the Turks went to the public bath called the hamman, where the community gathered to clean, relax and gossip. In the eighteenth century, travelers to the Middle East rediscovered the Turkish baths. Lady Mary Montagu was the first Western woman who described the hamman as a: “floor composed of variously colored, grained, sized, and shaped marble slabs. Underneath the floor, the raised platform, and behind the walls are the hollow tiles of the heating system (Koren 44). In her letters she describes their magnificence: “To see so many fine women naked, in different postures, some in conversation, some working, others drinking coffee or eating sherbet, and many negligently lying on their cushions, while their slaves are employed braiding their hair in several pretty fancies” (Petzke 68). During the late 1800s and early 1900s in fashionable American households, portable tubs were becoming popular. By World War II, water heaters, built-in bathtubs and sinks encouraged bathing in every family. At that time, Proctor & Gamble launched an event called the “cleanliness crusade” to convince Americans that bathing daily was the right thing to do. Today, the average American bathes more than seven times a week. As noted, bathing has become nearly a national and universal ritual.
Throughout the classical period, bathing was thought to promote general good health and longevity. Western medical specialists claimed that bathing could balance the humors and digestive disorders. Hot water (thermal) baths were thought to promote respiration, relieve fatigue and cure headaches, while cold showers were used to relieve painful joints. A very warm bath was used to bring down a high fever by making the bather sweat. “Bathing is about the sensuality of warm and cold thermal sensations that heighten your sense of awareness, destabilize your mood, generally rearrange the contents of your mind. The experience of extreme opposite temperatures back to back (hot to cold or cold to hot) is particularly revelatory” (Koren 28).
In the west, the medical benefits of bathing were forgotten during the Middle Ages, but recovered once again during the Renaissance in France, Germany and England. Doctors and chemists convinced users who visited the spas to drink the water, because it contained minerals that that fought against illnesses.
Today, luxury spas offer numerous treatments for relaxing stressful bodies and minds. Mud baths, enzyme baths, salt scrubs and seaweed body wrapping are popular ways of detoxifying the body and softening the skin. The type of mud used by most American spas is a combination of volcanic ash and peat mixed with water from hot springs. Dry sauna and steam baths are also thought to be a healing power for the overworked mind and body. This developed from Scandinavian traditions and relates to the Turkish bath. The warmth and sublime pressure of the water encourages the body to relax and the skin to become softer, and more sensitive. It might also be a good idea to add some herbs or essential oils, so bathing can become an alternative therapy for a variety of discomforts.
Today’s small baths do not require a lot of space. Most often, they contain a toilet and sink, with perhaps a vanity and some small storage space. In other words, they primarily serve a functional purpose.
II. Evolution of Sanitation
People are living much longer now than in the past, not only because cures have been found for many illnesses. Changes in sanitation must also be considered a factor in the drastic difference between this and earlier generations. Between 3000 and 1500 B.C. across the Mediterranean Sea from Mesopotamia, the ancient people of Crete were leaving their mark on the early annals of history. Their early engineers plumbers had laid elaborate systems of sewage disposal and drainage that resemble those of today. In fact, archaeologists have discovered underground channels that have remained virtually unchanged for several centuries, except for extensions that include structures built over the original ones. Some remains of the pipes still carry off the heavy rains. However, it was not until much later that this type of sewer system would be seen in other parts of the world (History of Plumbing).
Sanitary sewers have been found in the ancient Assyrian cities. Storm-water sewers that were constructed by the Romans are still usable today. Although the primary function of these was drainage, the Roman practice of dumping refuse in the streets caused significant quantities of organic matter to be carried along with the rainwater runoff.
In the city of Babylon under the rule of King Nebuchadnezzar (605-562 B.C.), a well-to-do person’s bathroom was about 15 feet square and built at the south end of the house. The lower parts of the wall and floor were lined with baked bricks. However, the floor was also overlaid with a bitumen composition and powdered limestone. It sloped to the center of the room, so that the water could drain into small rivulets. Most likely, the bathrooms consisted of a hole in the floor with a cesspool underneath.
However, in other instances there was a more elaborate arrangement. For example, the palace of Sargon the Great had six privies. These toilets had high seats that raised the latrine off the floor in the western style. Here, archaeologists say they have found connections to drains, which discharged into a main sewer. According to their findings, the sewer was 3.28 feet high and 16 feet long. It ran beneath the pavement next to the outer wall of the palace and then sloped downward to wash out the sewage. Other bathrooms, which could not be connected with the sewer systems, had individual cesspools.
The earliest recorded laws concerning disposal of human waste are noted in the Old Testament. Circa 1500 B.C, the Jews were instructed to dispose of their waste away from the camp under the earth or sand. Of course, in crowded cities, more ingenuity was required.
Jerusalem’s sewers developed in stages from the ancient days before the reign of King David in 1055 B.C. Drains removed sewage from homes and streets and excess waste and refuse were carted out through the city’s gates.
Because the temples required their own “pure water arrangements, there were two individual waste water systems. Sink water was channeled into ponds or large cesspools or directed into a settling basin, where the wastes would be held in suspension and later used as manure for crops. Excess water was used for growing gardens. More elaborate sewer systems were found in smaller towns of the area, snaking under the homes.
In the Middle Ages, most people died in their teens or early 20s in large part due to the unhealthy milieu of filth, poor hygiene, and nearly non-existent sanitation. Diseases such as the bubonic plague, typhus, smallpox, and tuberculosis decimated large populations of young and old.
In fact, until the mid-nineteenth century, streets were used as refuse dumping grounds, domestic animals roamed the streets and rodents ran rampant. Cesspools were located near houses and buildings, reeking and spreading germs. The Industrial Revolution and discoveries such as the germ theory brought about major changes in approach, raising the standard of living and ending serious epidemics. By 1900, improved nutrition, better sanitation, and, especially, contributions from bacteriologists increased life expectancy at birth by almost six years to age 47.3.
The impact of these measures was enhanced by education and promotion of personal hygiene and communal sanitation, including the use of potable, running water and the proper disposal of wastes.
The word sewer comes from the Old English “seaward.” London’s sewers were open, slanted ditches that channeled human wastes toward the River Thames and into the sea. These sewers rapidly filled with refuge that overflowed onto streets, into houses and the marketplaces of the city.
By the late 1500s, King Henry VIII passed a law that made all property owners responsible for clearing the sewer passing by their dwelling. He created a Commission of Sewers to enforce this rule.
By the early 18th century, nearly every home had a cesspool beneath its floors, and strong obnoxious odors even filled the most affluent properties and were sometimes worse than the garbage and manure-filled roads. In the summer of 1858, London was experiencing what was aptly called the ‘”great stink’.” Because the population had grown considerably during the first part of the nineteenth century, the cesspools were brimming through cracks in floorboards and down alleyways. Three cholera epidemics swept through the city, leaving over 30,000 people dead. Engineer Joseph Bazalgette proposed to build an underground network of sewers beneath the city streets. The main sewers for London have to be big. Bazalgette’s problem was to know where to put them without having to dig up vast areas of the city. His solution was to run the largest sewers along the banks of the Thames and then to cover them over to create the embankment. Although it took much hard word and was delayed by the underground railway and new roads, the system was eventually put into place and set a standard quickly copied across the world.
It is interesting to look at the development of sewers in Chicago, because it demonstrates how engineers and designers have to consider different means to a solution. This is also true when considering the design of bathrooms for the future, as noted later in this paper. Cholera struck Chicago in the summer of 1849. One in 36 residents died: 450 in 1850; 630 in 1852. In 1854 the disease took 6% of the population and Chicagoans died at the rate of 60 a day. By July the streets were lined with coffins. Hundreds fled. The exact cause of the disease was unknown. Some believed it was air borne and sealed their houses against the “death fogs” (Chicago Public Library)
Six successive years of cholera and dysentery epidemics convinced the Illinois Legislature to establish a permanent Board of Sewerage Commissioners in February 1855. William B. Ogden was appointed to head the three-member commission and brought Boston engineer Ellis S. Chesbrough to Chicago to design the first comprehensive system of underground sewers in the United States.
Chesbrough’s report of December, 1855 to the Board of Sewerage Commissioners offered four options for sewer drainage: Discharge sewage directly into the Chicago River; into Lake Michigan; into artificial reservoirs to be used a manure; or, dig a deepened steamboat canal along the route of the I&M canal and discharge the sewage in the direction of the Illinois River. The commissioners adopted the first plan, the dumping of sewage into the Chicago River, in order to limit the cost and extent of the proposed sewer system.
By spring of 1856 Chesbrough had convinced the commissioners that the level of Chicago’s streets was much too low to adequately drain the new sewers. He proposed the radical measure of raising the grade of the streets six to ten feet, so sewers could be laid on top of existing streets and covered with dirt. New guttered streets would be paved at the new level. Raising the street level created space, not only to accommodate the new sewer pipes, but gas and water mains as well
Having established a new grade, the process of lifting Chicago out of the muck began. The Chicago River was dredged to deepen it for sewage. The dredged soil from the river bottom was used to raise the fill level of the streets. In some cases whole blocks of buildings were raised at a time. Four- and five-story buildings were hoisted as much as twelve feet. Then Cheesbrough realized that the problem with water sewage and had to begin another major project that took several decades to rectify. Chicago then realized that its water problems were even worse, but that is another story!
New York City provided the model for sewage disposal systems across America (Goldman). In Manhattan, water was always at a shortage because it had to be hand-drawn and carried from surrounding springs and wells. Peddlers would go from home to home, selling water by the bucket. Later, water would be rationed during the day from street pumps or hydrants. As in other cities, sewage was thrown into the streets. Privies were built on the sides of buildings and rarely cleaned up. In the late 1600s, concerned officials passed a ruling that banned scavengers from dumping “tubs of filth” in the streets. Unbeknown to these officers, a good deed had been done. They did not realize that cholera and typhoid was being spread because local wells were too close to the privies.
It was not until the early 1800s that New York built a city-wide sewer system, where well water was pumped to an above-ground reservoir and distributed via water mains of cast iron to fire hydrants along the narrow streets. However, in 1835, the system could not handle the terrible fire that consumed the city. As a result, the city redesigned a viable, pressurized system. In 1842, the Croton Aqueduct System began transporting water from 40 miles north of the city to a secondary reservoir on 42nd Street and a third one in Central Park. These fed into a network of underground mains. Buildings finally had running water, but there still was not a working system for wastage.
Engineer Julius W. Adams developed the structure for today’s sewer system in 1857. In the borough of Brooklyn that covered 20 square miles, he established and published guidelines that could be used throughout the country. By the end of the century, textbooks with his drawings would be available for towns and cities to use wherever needed.
With the advances being made in the development of the water closet, the sanitation was nearly complete. Soon, the terrible illnesses brought on by the filth and bacteria of the open sewage systems would be over.
III. History of Water Closets
Britain may have claimed to have the first water closet, but China now has this country beat by a long shot, with the discovery of a 2,000-year-old toilet complete with running water, a stone seat and a comfortable armrest. Archaeologists found this latrine in the tomb of a king of the Western Han Dynasty that ruled from 206 B.C. To 24 A.D.
Modern-day water closets (WC), eventually given the more common name of “toilet,” became an essential aspect of the bathroom once sewer systems were established in metropolises in the early nineteenth century. In England, clockmaker Alexander Cummings designed the first flushable water closet in 1775 out of metal. The S-shaped drainage pipe trapped residual water after each flush and kept foul odors from coming back up the drain. While this did improve the odor problem, it did little to halt the spread of disease. Other innovations followed. In 1777, Samuel Prosser patented the plunger closet and a year later, Joseph Bramah created a two-piece and received a patent for the float and valve flushing system (History of Plumbing).
Several adaptations were made to this unit throughout the next decades, including a patent by J.G. Jennings in 1852. This unit had a shallow basin with a dished tray and water seal. The flush water drove the contents into the pan and then through the S-trap. This was called a “wash down” system. However, it was not until 1885 when Thomas Twyford built the first trapless one-piece china design that the toilet actually became a fixture in many people’s homes. The benefits of the trap seal made the WC a marketable item that could be installed indoors to provide improved health and lifestyle.
William Campbell and James T. Henry received the first U.S. patent for a toilet, or plunger closet, in 1857. American designs were normally inferior to those made in England, so most were imported. Consumers had a wide choice to choose from including glazed bowls with artistic designs.
Even as early as the 1820s, conservation was a concern with the use of WCs, because it took too much water to eliminate the waste. This led to changes in toilet design such as different valve mechanisms. The hopper closet was the forerunner to the evolution of the gravity wash down and siphon systems, the two main WC designs still in use today worldwide. Siphonic closets are a type of wash down in which the contents of the pan are removed by siphonic action, an after flush arrangement providing for the resealing of the trap. They are practically silent in action and, with a flush of three gallons, work very satisfactorily.
Although these two systems were developed in the United Kingdom, their present distribution is mainly country specific with limited mixing of the technologies. Current wash down WCs, that essentially follow the original designs, are used mostly in Europe, Singapore, Australia and South Africa. The siphonic system is mostly popular in America, Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines.
Since WCs use the most water in people’s homes, a large number of countries have enacted laws that regulate the amount consumed by each flush. For example, in the United States traditional toilets manufactured before 1980 were primarily gravity flow or flush valves and used 5 to 7 gallons per flush (gpf.) Since 1980, low-flow toilets using 3.5 gpf, and ultra-low-flow (ULF) toilets using 1.6 gpf. have been introduced into the marketplace. As part of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, which took effect in 1994, Congress outlawed toilet tanks with the standard 3.5-gallon capacity and mandated that 1.6-gallon tanks be installed in all new homes.
In the meantime, various manufacturers have been producing other conservation designs. One company, for example, has 1.1-gpf. toilets, which use 45% less water than the 1.6-gpf. products. Another firm has developed a glazing process that is applied to the interior of the bowl during manufacturing and seals the ceramic with an ionized barrier. This prevents particles from sticking to the nonporous surface, assisting in moving the waste and keeping the toilet clean.
Dry sanitation, defined as the disposal of human waste without the use of water as a carrier, is used in certain parts of the world. Often the product is recycled as fertilizer. In developed countries, dry sanitation toilets were initially designed for use in remote areas for practical and environmental reasons. However, increasing conservation concerns have led to using them as an alternative to conventional systems. In developing countries they can be a low-cost, environmentally acceptable, hygienic option. Advantages include minimal ground contamination, recycling of biowaste and significant reduction of water use (Scott). There are a number of advantages and disadvantages to dry sanitation:
Vastly reduced water use – limited to what is needed for cleaning body and toilet.
Minimal groundwater contamination.
Recycling of biowaste.
Composting stops below 5 “C, and is slow below 20 “C.
Solar heating panels are dependent on clear weather.
Hence dry sanitation toilets may be unsuccessful in more temperate areas. The solar toilets on the Routeburn Track in New Zealand are one such example (Chapman, pers. com.).
Public Health Aspects
Feces inaccessible to animals such as pigs and rats.
Feces isolated from the groundwater, in contrast to conventional pit latrines.
Breeding of flies discouraged by feces isolation (lids, meshes over vents, etc.).
Minimal concentration of pathogens in the end product.
Sufficient time and correct usage are essential to kill pathogens.
Handling of partially infectious material (if removed from chamber for sun drying).
IV. Basic components of modern bathrooms
Today’s bathrooms come in a variety of new combinations and beautiful colors with many alternative materials. Tubs, shower stalls, toilets and sinks are the basic fixtures.
Toilet or Flush
Today’s toilets look different and work differently from the earlier ones. Low profile, one-piece toilets are sleek and stylish. Modern units have bowls that are more comfortable than old style round bowls and are much easier to clean as well. There are even one-piece, wall-hung units (no part of fixture touches the floor) for extra legroom. However, they do require special drainage systems and consequently are more expensive than conventional floor-standing toilets. Some toilets are designed for very odd spaces. Several manufactures offer a model with a triangular tank that fits into a two-foot by two-foot corner. This is great for tiny bathrooms. Tanks come in a number of sizes and shapes — tall and rectangular, short and square. Many of the new models have nearly invisible tanks. Seats are also available in a variety of contours. Most standard models have seats that are 14 inches in height. As noted, today, most standard toilets are designed to save water. Those that use less water are more expensive than the old-fashioned ones, but save a great deal of money over the long run.
Sinks When it comes to bathrooms, it all happens at the sink. Here is the place where people brush their teeth and wash their face everyday of their lives. The bathroom sink offers hundreds of design possibilities. They come in so many different of sizes, shapes, colors and materials. There are three styles: wall hung, freestanding and vanity top with a molded one- piece production.
Tubs and showers Bathtubs have gotten a facelift in the last several years. Users can still soak in a standard 5-foot, rectangular model, but the more adventurous bathers have many more choices such as round tubs, square tubs, modular tubs, oversized tubs and undersized tubs. Today’s basic bathtub does not have to be utilitarian. Some standard models that feature drains located at the opposite end from the faucets, allow for easy cleaning; others accommodate special dispensers for soap and shampoo. Standard tubs come in wide variety of materials that can be matched with other bath fixtures.
Imagine the scenario of the user awakening from a restful sleep, jumping out of bed and heading to the shower. Suddenly, he/she is ready to step out of the shower and grab a towel hanging. The person just remembers that the last towel was used the night before. Angry, he/she walks down to the closet outside the bathroom, dripping water on the hardwood floor. Well-planned bathroom storage can help the user’s personal rush hours go much more smoothly.
Ventilation According to research, the bathroom is the greatest area to generate moisture, odors, and even air pollution from cleaning chemicals. Because the bathroom generates a concentrated source of moisture vapor, it is important to think about the ventilation system. Natural ventilation could be one way to deal with moisture build up. Just opening the window, ensures a good airflow across the bathroom.
But the problem is, this method is too dependent on a variable number of factors. Especially, the weather is obviously unpredictable. Furthermore, it wastes a great deal of heat energy in the winter.
Natural lighting The use of lighting is an important element in the design of bathrooms. One easy way to bring a natural element into the atmosphere and make the bathroom special is to provide some sunshine. Natural light is the most pleasurable kind of light.
Special effects with plants An additional way for bringing a natural atmosphere into the bathroom is through growing plants. The bath is where plants feel most comfortable at home. Warmth and humidity levels are perfect for healthy growth. Plants and baths can belong together in terms of decoration. Plants are living creatures that have a friendly touch, soften the environment, produce clean air and create a natural scene. Once, the plants are moved into the bath environment, it is very important to keep them healthy with the correct amount of food water and care.
Approriate plants for the bath Hydroponics is a system that carries water with nutrients to the vegetation and drains it to the recirculation system. Hydroponics means water works. It is a method of growing plants in a water and nutrient compound solution without soil. Although in theory any plant could be grown hydroponically, in practice hydroponics gardening is usually reserved for exotic plants and flowers, or for greenhouse-style vegetables, such as lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, melons and culinary herbs.
Hydroponics developed from the findings of experiments carried out to determine what substances make plants grow and the composition of plants. Such work on plant constituents dates back as early as the 1600s. However, plants were being grown in a soil-free culture far earlier than this. Hydroponics is at least as ancient as the pyramids. A primitive form has been carried on in Kashmir for centuries.
The process of hydroponics growing in our oceans goes back to about the time the earth was created. Hydroponics growing preceded soil growing. But as a farming tool, many believe it started in the ancient city of Babylon with its famous hanging gardens, which are listed as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.
Designing a special place for small trees and flowers can transform a relaxing haven into a botanical setting. Bathrooms offer an excellent environment for plants and may provide additional benefits for being successful with hydroponics growth. Light is the most important factor for growing hydroponics plants indoors and direct lighting is best. If a bathroom has a significant amount of unobstructed light coming in from a window, if this window faces in an eastward or westward direction, and if the plant can be placed close enough to the light source, the conditions may be advantageous for growth. If these factors are not possible, then incandescent light bulbs are an adequate source of artificial light, providing that the light shines directly on the foliage. A problem with incandescent lighting is the intense heat, which may be unacceptable in a bathroom setting. Adding a skylight in the bathroom can add dramatic accent to the space and provide extra natural light for plants. He plants must be turned regularly to give them light on all sides. Interchanging potted bathroom plants with others in sunnier locations throughout the house is also a wise recommendation (Sullivan).
Another plus for having the plants in the bathroom is that they require high relative humidity. In an average home, the relative humidity normally falls between 40 and 55%. In the winter, the humidity may fall below 50% and harm the plants. Because of the activities that take place in a bathroom, a much greater opportunity exists for keeping the relative humidity in the correct range. There is no need for an artificial means of creating moisture such as a humidifier or keeping open vessels of water. Being in a humid bathroom setting will also keep the leaves clean. Says Sullivan about measuring humidity:
You can keep track of the humidity of a room by an instrument known as a “hygrometer.” It registers relative humidity by means of a semicircular dial, or by a column of mercury, the way a thermometer register temperature readings. (65) plant shelf or greenhouse window can be included in a tub area if the space allows. If the tub will also be used for a shower, plan to install a second curtain or sliding door system. This will enable the plant area to be closed off when the shower is in use and will keep steam and flowing water from hitting the plants,
In return, the plants will provide the household with oxygen as well as beautify an already relaxed and calm environment. In the United States, horticultural therapy is used to help the disabled and patients of mental illnesses. This is because gardening or caring for a pet plant can reduce stress. Plants help to remove tension by offering an outlet to vent one’s anger and frustrations. A person can even talk to his/her plant like a pet to let off steam without hurting anybody. The heartbeat slows, breathing improves and calmness sets in.
The plants can adorn the room with their natural colors, or they can be decorated festively at various times of the year to add extra beauty. At Christmas time, for example, they can be adorned with ornaments and tinsel just like the tree in the living room.
Whether watering, pruning or decorating, growing plants can be very beneficial to one’s well-being. They take a person’s mind off his/her troubles, while focusing on another living thing that needs attention.
Great design and fantastic metaphor are the keywords among designers these days. The ideal bath, however, is normally not what can be found in the present average house. Many homes were built 20 to 40 years ago before bathroom design was important. Unfortunately, many present-day designers still do not recognize the value of a bath and build residences with unimaginative white fixtures, antiseptic features, and predictable hard and cold designs. It is therefore hardly the place to pass time. Consequently, most people grow up with the idea that the bath is a room for necessary functions only.
However, the bath should be for much more. Today’s bath process should be for hiding and getting away from the fast-paced world and getting in touch with the body and rebuilding the spirit. In the present-day rushed world, it is no wonder people often feel tired and rely on short-term boosts from coffee or sugar snacks. Yet, these signs can be the body’s way of saying that it is suffering from daily fatigue. Like in ancient times, the bath needs to once again become a place to relax and rejuvenate the body and mind. An industrial designer is concerned mainly with high aesthetics and articulated functionality, not the end needs of the user. In other words, the bathing experience is basically subjective and the designers are dealing more with the objective and concrete. The more personal a bathroom is, the better it is for the user. Not only do the concrete things such as bathtub, toilet, or sink count as the most important parts of the bathroom, but also the emotional things such as pleasure, safety, stimulation, cleanliness, privacy, enjoyment and timelessness. Likewise, Leonard Koren wrote in his book,” Why are most designers (architectural, interior or industrial) incapable of creating deeply satisfying bathing environments? Because the key metaphors of design — efficiency, sleek modernity, overwhelming visual appeal are antagonistic to a profound bathing experience (120).
For example, bathing in Japan is about much more than cleanliness. It is about family and community. It is about being alone and contemplative. Bathing in Japan is not only getting clean, but also getting pure. “A man soaking in a rotenburo, a large open-air hot spring-listen to the rusting leaves overhead; a girl in a little bathroom watches the steam rising. Such is tranquility (Petzke 93).
Landscape of Bathing and relaxing
The bathroom is not a place just for body cleanliness, but rather a room that offers total refreshment. The intention is being able to create a new possibility — “it is a visionary confrontation in the field of combining high technology and spirituality. In doing so, the designer is looking at a new product design concept, a different understanding of the integration of the “source of cleaning.” This is why a hybrid of using space is possible, which interprets the bathroom as a healthy and relaxing area. Room constellations are created, comprehensive living spaces in which all living events take place.
Currently, with the product range created by international designers, a bathroom can become an area of free imaginative thinking and move from its purely functional living space into much, much more.
Artificial vs. real
If someone loves golf and lives in Japan, it could present a major problem, especially if he/she is not extremely rich. If this person wants to play golf in a natural setting, it is cheaper to fly to Thailand or Bali than to play the rates of a Japanese golf course.
The solution is easy: Japanese architectural designers have created buildings with hundreds of little cells, opening towards a huge net (one of the most common urban landmarks of Japanese cities that are spreading all over Asia from Indonesia to China). Another example, a seaside resort in Japan might be the place where someone can smell the briny ocean, feel the wind and the sun on the skin, and hear seagulls in the distance. However, if this is impossible, all one has to do is get into a video box with an explanatory panel and computer animations to know what it really feels like to stand by the sea. Similarly, in a capital suburb, with low cost housing, there are factories and docklands as far as one could possibly be from a natural environment. Outside, it looks a lot like some prehistoric structure (sometime ugly), but inside the dome it is colder than the North Pole or Siberia, with real snow, skiers and snowboarders. In Japan, this is called ski dome, ski monster, etc. Here is one of the places that someone can cool down when it gets too warm outside in the natural environment.
The New Landscape in Metro area
In metropolitan areas now under construction there are new urban landscapes and public spaces where people wonder where the green areas have gone. It could be claimed that parks or rest areas are one of the most important factors for human beings and other living creatures to make the community balanced and complete. Certainly this is true in terms of the atmospheric conditions of climate and air-conditioning. Cities grow larger and at such great speed that they no longer are natural environments. Combine this with the urban residents’ behavior of shopping, buying, or at least just hanging out and the problem is worse.
As one of the fast economic growing countries, Singapore sees itself as an economic center. After more than 20 years, it no longer imagines it is a city that can be planned in the traditional way. Rather, It sees itself as an urban condition having a new opportunity of economic integration and exchange. The city has abandoned the traditional way of the Asian living spirit and the sense of nature. The living situation in Singapore probably represents the most confusing of all areas: history has been almost completely blotted out and the entire living area has become completely artificial.
On the weekends and seasonal peak periods, many people who live in the metropolis head down to the entertainment area for dance music, after-hour pubs, discotheques, private parties and informal meetings. Some of them take a short trip to the closest national parks. They go to the nearest place they can so they can return to work on time for the next working day. It is important to realize how hybridized both working and living situations are today.
Water supply Service
The water supply service will sensibly tend to collect into common runs through a building: in a large building, for example, it will usually travel vertically through duct space. It possibly goes through a service core and horizontally through floor constructions or through the voids over suspended ceilings. The building’s internal organization (sanitation engineers, architects) must help minimize and simplify how this system runs — particularly, the water services to bathrooms.
The natural cycle that waters the land and makes it clean is the oldest utility service. Above ground, the rainwater sheds into streams and rivers. Generally, it forms underground water at depths below the surface that vary depending on typography, subsoil and quantity of rainfall.
Purification Purification is the process that removes bacteria, small particles that are harmful, softens hard water and removes salts. Further filtration that may be needed is normally completed through a bed of sand. The sand itself removes sediment. Chemicals may be added to promote the water’s quality (this process disinfects the water).
Distribution water to the building Since plumbing connections are the most numerous in all bathrooms, they usually need the most careful planning and sometimes the most creative routes to keep them concealed. Based on research, a complete home plumbing system requires three distinct networks of pipes:
The first water supply lines, carry water under pressure. The second network, the drain pipes, work entirely by gravity. The third carries no water at all, but it serves to maintain equal air pressure throughout the drainpipe so that the flow proceeds without interference. For a start, at peak demand, a building’s height results in a pressure problem, both in feeding water up to the top levels of the building and distributing it down from high level storage. There are two different systems in current technology: direct and indirect.
Boosting by pump
Building height may well outstrip the 30-40 m. supply head of pressure available from the street main. A 30 m. head is only equivalent to eight stories. In a direct system, the water is taken directly from the main as high as pressure allows. Above that, in the boosted section, It is supplied by gravity from the large water storage where it is installed on the top or roof, or by indirect system. It is small enough to ensure enough turnover to keep the water fresh but large enough to avoid having the booster pumps switching on and off all the time.
Boosting by pressure cylinder water pump This is similar to the above process, except that the boost to the higher level is maintained by a pressure cylinder connected to the initial feed. This comprises a small reservoir with an air compressor operated intermittently.
Drains lead to the sewer or septic system. The logical fundamental drainage design is satisfyingly clear and simple. Essentially, the discharge process is through lateral runs or branches from each sanitary appliance, a main downward collecting stack, the underground lateral drain and the public collecting running the sewer. Discharge from basins, baths and washing machines is waste. If avoiding blockage were the only problem, drainage design would be easy; it would only need suitable material and size. The inherent snag is that while there must be a clear route, it has to also prevent sewer smells passing back to the building. Smells are unsavory nonetheless. The simple solution is the trap. The trap works by giving the pipe a dip in its run, so that a water seal is always left behind after the discharge has passed. All sanitary appliances are trapped.
Vents and traps
Vents do two things: They provide an exhaust route for badly sewer gases, and they provide air to drains to ensure unobstructed drainage. In the widely and practical techniques in the sanitation industry, precautions are used to connect a vent pipe from the position behind each trap to the outside air. The branch vents can connect to a main pipe running to the roof (smells up there are not really smells, if no one is there to smell them). This manner prevents the pipe from being obstructed by general suction and compression (with the pressure each side of the trap keeps balance).
Traps are connected to the tub, shower stall and lavatory. They are always filled with water. The water that is continually standing in toilets serves the same purpose. Without vents, the traps could be siphoned of their water or gases and could generally bubble through the traps.
The ideal living, the bathroom in new product design context
The end of nature could bring about a general feeling of discomfort that has made the environment a priority in present-day thinking. Industrial designers who are really engaged in a global society are concerned with studying propositions in all their variety.
The most important thing is to create a new relationship between the bathroom, the environment, the technology and users. Bathrooms for small apartments can no longer be considered as areas fixed by the traditional walls or requirement limits. Instead, they must be the result of a combination of the user’s experience, where human behavior depends on the continual interaction among the bathroom, nature, a new line of products, and innovation of sanitation ideas.
How should we define the living environment today? Do we really need a new sleekly designed bathroom? And what responsibilities do the industrial designers or building environmental related designers have to make this image come true?
To create a new composition, which may sometimes border on natural and the artificial by restoring the sense of ecology living.
To reinvent the bathroom based on analysis of living space and cleanliness processes that exist between local elements and spaces.
To harmonize products with the environment by making intelligent technical systems that will be ecologically and economically visible or constructing new sanitation systems like ecosystems.
To recompose the living environment dividing between users and nature-related products, between humankind and the social and political environment.
To conceptualize new methods of analysis and new directions of sanitation planning systems that will introduce a dynamic, open dimension into a traditional bathroom.
To deal with the density and degradation of natural and suburban residential environments such as flat, small apartments or odd spaced room.
In summary, “to rebuild the unity,” “to reinvent a bathroom,” “to harmonize,” “to deal with,” “to construct.” These terms make up a list of practices that correspond to a mission of production in a world that is generally entrusted to the designer.
The future of the bathroom is here Once, the toilet was a miraculous invention. No longer did a person have to go to an outhouse or use an inside pot!
And the waste just disappeared down the drain without a terrible smell. Since then, the world of technology has exploded. Designers are already conceptualizing the look and function of the next level of the bathroom decor.
At the Dutch design firm of Philips, for example, engineers are developing unique gadgets that will enhance the care and grooming experience by 2005. They began with the mirror. The bathroom mirror is being changed into an entertainment and information center with a small television and Internet. No one will have to miss any part of a favorite TV show or sporting events. By the sink is a flexible pullout mirror with a magnifying camera lens attached to a flexible arm for correct positioning. It offers a completely hands-free body inspection that is presently impossible (Douglas).
A recharge shelf and containers rest under the mirror. Here one can recharge electric shavers and toothbrushes, as well as special programmable remote controls that store individual preset preferences for background music, television selection, room lighting, heating, and water temperature for the shower, bath or bidet. This high-tech bathroom also eliminates the need for a magazine rack, since the wireless, waterproof television on the mirror can be moved anywhere. Through this monitor, one can access TV channels, e-magazines, e-books or instant stock quotes over the Internet (ibid).
A big problem many people have in front of their bathroom mirror is their defective eyesight. Using eyeball tracking, the mirror of the future will enlarge the area being looked at to give a simple view for shaving or putting on makeup. Applying makeup could be greatly assisted too. A computer could analyze a woman’s facial image and recommend which makeup to apply, based on her colors and the manufacturer’s recommended uses or on the latest fashions and styles. The mirror could display the various options side by side to help one choose the appropriate image. It could even put someone in a virtual environment where that person will be going during the day. Having made the decision from the various faces, the mirror could guide the woman in the correct makeup application (ibid).
Today many people have electric toothbrushes with interchangeable heads for each member of the family. The plastic bristles actually make simple light guides, so an engineer had the idea of putting either a laser or ultraviolet light source in the brush head and to use its light to kill the bacteria on one’s teeth. The light is guided from the laser along the bristles to the places where the plaque lies. In this way, the laser wouldn’t have to be too powerful and the risk of damage to gums is reduced.
For toweling off, Philips is designing a magic rug that does much more than dry the bottom of a person’s feet. It allows someone to track vital signs including weight, pulse and blood pressure. Digital results can be recorded and transmitted instantly to a window in one of the bathroom’s electronic mirrors. It is just like a home medical center — “most likely to be found in the bathroom. Tomorrow’s bathroom will be equipped with a medical kit containing more than cotton balls and bandages. Philips thinks the day is fast approaching when there will be little need for anyone to go to the doctor to diagnose high blood pressure, for instance. The first aid kit of the future will contain e-books and CD-ROMs that will give information on what blood pressure is and how to measure it using tools from the kit, which will be connected to a link at the doctor’s office. In short, the home medical center will function like an interactive medical encyclopedia, with in-depth explanations and simulations, while providing access to the physician’s office through a video link so he/she can check symptoms and give a prognosis (Douglas).
Another company sees that this computerized system working in a little bit different way. While taking a shower, a video camera and computer can scan the body to provide information on general health status. Further in the future, it may be possible to use ultrasound to give advanced warning of any developing problems. At the same time, the computer can check the pulse and blood pressure. There could also be a test for saliva and even waste products in the toilet, including a check for urine infections, diabetes, viruses, and a host of other conditions.
The laser scan can also precisely measure the body, so that clothes can be made that fit exactly — “no need for altering. Of course, the clothes can be ordered on the computer, so one does not even have to go out shopping. Gauges in the floor of the shower provide one’s exact weight. The computer analyzes the pounds and determines how it relates to weight-loss goals. The number of calories for the day and menus can also be generated, if required.
Meanwhile, at the plumbing supply company Toto Kiki USA of Morrow, Georgia, (www.totousa.com),engineers have developed, tested and are now marketing a new product. It is an ergonomically contoured, cushioned, “smart” toilet seat. The new seat includes an automatic air sensor and freshening system, a hydraulic mechanism for soft-closing seat-slam, and the personal cleansing luxury of a built-in, adjustable, aerated, warm-water bidet, which is stream activated by remote control at the touch of a button. This toilet seat even comes with an optional seat-warmer feature for those cold winter mornings.
The WC product was built with the belief that a comfortable seat should mimic the contours of the human body. The ergonomic seat fits not just the commode, but the body as well. A high back provides support, while the sloping front is designed so it does not impede blood circulation.
More important than all the high-tech, however, the bathroom must soon become a place to relax and get away from it all. After a very hectic, busy day, it is important to get away from it all and unwind. The Greeks and Romans had it right when they went to the baths once or more a day…they knew the importance of splitting the day’s activities between a very busy and stressful pace and the calming effect of music and hot water.
To make the bathroom more relaxing, designers will have to do more with color and textiles. The plants mentioned above will add greenery and a soft touch. In addition to this will be soft hues where one can literally wash away the troubles of the day.
The world is only going to become increasingly fast-paced and alienating as the population continues to grow and life becomes more complex. Already, doctors see the amount of depression and other mental illnesses on the rise because people cannot escape from the everyday worries and problems.
The bathroom may just be a small oasis, only several square feet large. However, it can be a place to escape to at the end of a long day. A place to listen to soothing music, to treat oneself to an automatic massage or the jet streams of a Jacuzzi, to enjoy the greenery and beauty of the plants and to close one’s eyes, dream and forget about any concerns.
Chicago Public Library. “Down the Drain.” One: City in a Swamp. 20 November 2003. http://www.chipublib.org/digital/sewers/history.html
Goldman, Joanne Abel, Building New York’s Sewers: Developing Mechanisms of Urban Management (West Lafayette, Indiana: Purdue University Press, 1997).
History of Plumbing.” P&M Magazine. (July 1998).
Page, Douglas. “Bathroom of the Future.” Troika Magazine (spring 2002)
Scott, Elizabeth. “Dry Sanitation Solutions.” Journal of Rural and Remote
Environmental Health 1(2): 23-25 (2002).
Sullivan, George. Understanding Hydroponics. New York: Federick Warne, 1976
Metabolism n. Process, in organism of single cell, by which nutritive material is built up into living matter or protoplasm is broken down into simpler substances.
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