Single User Restrooms Typically Require Less Square Footage

By Bruce Pitts posted 04-16-2011 03:57 PM


Approximately 7% of the population are unable to urinate in the presence of others.  This condition is known as paruresis.*  In buildings designed with multi person restrooms, paruresis sufferers are unable to urinate when others are in the same room or can hear this.  Toilet/urinal partitions or background music often provide little or no relief.  This environment damages the quality of life people should expect when functioning in society. 


Private restrooms eliminate circulation square footage (the square footage in multi person restrooms for public movement within the space) and thus can cost about the same or less to build as multi person styles.  Private restroom doors typically open onto a main corridor without need for this circulation square footage.  

Design private restrooms with the minimum amount of space.  Even ones that are accessible only require wheelchair access into the room, wheelchair rotation and access to the sink.  A minimum  8' long by 5' wide could suffice for either accessible or standard private restrooms. 

Walk into any multi person restroom, count up the number of fixtures and figure an 8’ X 5’ private restroom for each fixture.  Compare this to the size of the mulit person restroom with all of its circulation square footage.  Square footage savings can be as high as 30% to 50% for larger restrooms by designing private restrooms instead. 

Cluster private restrooms along a main corridor wall with self closing doors to maintain the aesthetic integrity of the space. Specify visual occupied/unoccupied door locks allowing people to see which restrooms are available.

With private restrooms, employee and customer satisfaction will increase leading to better productivity and increased sales.  Buildings become user friendly, inviting, more in demand and an environment people can function in.** 

Seven percent of Americans is the population of New York State.  Paruresis is extremely common.  Design private restrooms in all future projects.  This is the future of restroom design.  


** The American's With Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 302. PROHIBITION OF  DISCRIMINATION BY PUBLIC ACCOMMODATIONS:  "(a) General Rule.--No individual shall be discriminated against on the basis of disability in the full and equal enjoyment of the goods, services, facilities, privileges, advantages, or accommodations of any place of public accommodation by any person who owns, leases (or leases to), or operates a place of public accommodation."  ADA also states that a person is "considered to have a disability if he or she has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities."