World toilet day on November 11th was used to promote and build awareness of global sanitation issues. What started cautiously became an interesting and enjoyable experience, which generated a lot of interest. We talked to a lot of students and parents on the day but also to future leads, like Severn Trent and Birmingham City Council who could spread the event to a larger audience. We achieved the response through collaborating with worldtolietday.org before the event and using social media in the build up and on the day itself, this online side to the event was just as important as the toilet itself, but luckily BCU also had an open day going as well. The toilet was a fun centre piece of the day which we found was a great way of engaging people to talk about sanitation issues; it was a great icebreaker, people were naturally curious seeing us wheeling a toilet around!
It was clear that most people we talked to were unaware of world toilet day and some of the issues concerning sanitation in remote places of the world, which isn’t surprising as we didn’t either before November. The newspaper we made was great tool to help address this as it helped spread the information past the day itself. Reflecting on the day, we realised that having fun is a useful tool in the process of raising a general knowledge and awareness of an issue in people, we found it was more of an empowering of information rather than a forced supply of information.
The articles in the give-away newspaper aimed to pick up on the themes of engagement and having resilience in a design approach which adapts to future challenges. This is what we aim to take forward onto a proposal for a de-centralized waste system. The proposal needs simply to be something that provides basic sanitation using what is feasible in current technology. Responding to local site conditions and vernacular building methods however is also important but shouldn’t stop the system being used in different villages and cities.
The idea of engaging we established during the world toilet day is a concept we intend to use throughout the design of the system, being a low tech project which is built solely from local labour, skills and materials, which also utilizes the natural terrain. The aim of it is to activate spaces by not only offering a standardise toilet block but instead a meeting place that stimulates interaction for the community. This could be a community kitchen or an outdoors teaching / gathering space, the other functions of the toilet is a key theme for the project moving forward.