The restroom of the future? View the prototype this research group designed to make restrooms accessible to all people

by Brianna Crandall — July 11, 2018 — Stalled!, a design initiative launched as a direct response to the controversies in the United States surrounding transgender access to public restrooms, recently announced the launch of its open source website Stalled! Online, making three years of inclusive bathroom design research available to the public. Stalled! shifts the terms of the debate by reframing the issue of public restroom access as a design challenge that addresses an urgent social justice issue: the need to design safe and inclusive public restrooms, not only for the transgender community, but for everyone, irrespective of age, race, gender, religion and disability.

With the support of the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architect’s (AIA) Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Stalled! representatives unveiled Stalled! Online and presented the initiative’s findings at the recent AIA national conference in New York City.

Airport restroom design graphic

The safe, inclusive restroom prototype (shown: airport) covers all ages, races, genders and disabilities, even those performing religious rites, nursing moms and caregivers. Image courtesy Stalled!

Stalled! creates economical restroom prototypes for retrofit and new construction projects that can be adopted and deployed across the US, while meeting the needs of the diverse people and activities that take place in restrooms. This truly inclusive approach benefits the transgender community, but also many others, including caregivers of all ages, breastfeeding mothers, those who need to administer medication, devout individuals who need to perform religious rites and people with both physical and cognitive disabilities.

Joel Sanders, principal architect, Stalled!, and professor of Architecture at Yale University, remarked:

While many progressive institutions are committed to bathroom equity, they are working in isolation to come up with viable solutions without the benefit of a consistent approach that considers the broad social, political, economic, and architectural dimensions of this complex problem. Stalled! solves this issue by raising awareness for the design need, developing best practice design guidelines, and lobbying to amend legal codes that govern the construction of traditional restrooms.

Following the success of Stalled!, the cross-disciplinary team behind the initiative — architect Joel Sanders, trans historian Susan Stryker and legal scholar Terry Kogan — will form MIXdesign and apply inclusive design principles to everyday building types such as offices, museums and libraries that have historically been designed for cis-gender, able-bodied people. MIXdesign believes that a democratic society builds respect for human difference through the creation of spaces that encourage mixing.

As a design consulting firm, MIXdesign will partner with progressive institutions and companies that want to attract diverse audiences and workers by creating interactive spaces to engage people of different ages, genders, races and disabilities who have been left out of the equation. MIXdesign will also take inclusive design beyond the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

To learn more about Stalled! initiative or the MIXdesign design consulting firm, visit the group’s website. A video recording of the AIA presentation is accessible on the ARCHITECT magazine Facebook page.