Tinys WCs

And another thing.

I get annoyed by the cramped WC cubicles found in some lavatorial establishments. One example, sadly, is to be found in the loos at the local medical practice with which I am registered.

Now I have no complaints about the healthcare services on offer. In recent years all the physicians and nurses with whom I have come into contact have been superb, and the reception staff are helpful and well-trained — nothing like the traditional “dragon at the door” who does everything possible to protect the doctors from contact with their patients. The practice also uses up-to-date technology, with online booking of appointments, touchscreen check-in facilities, computerised patient records, etc.

In fact the only annoying feature of this GP practice (apart from the inadequate and badly designed car park, which is not relevant here) is the shockingly inefficient lavatorial facilities.

The gents’ bog features two WCs. Since no urinals have been provided, male patients must use a WC even just for a quick pee. But the cubicles are so ridiculously small that the edge of the inward-opening door passes within about an inch of the loo seat, making it impossible just to walk in and swing the door closed behind you. Since the cubicles are also too narrow to allow you to stand to one side of the WC pan while closing the door, the only practical procedure is as follows:

  • Open the door
  • Step in and turn around to face outwards
  • Spread your legs apart
  • Waddle backwards, straddling the loo pan, while leaning to one side to avoid bashing your hip on the bog paper dispenser
  • Having retreated far enough, swing the door closed and lock it
  • Waddle forward again until clear of the loo pan
  • Turn around (or sit down) and do what you came in for

Mission accomplished, you can only escape the cubicle by going through the same awkward process in reverse. And if you happen to be carrying a large bag or a coat, the procedure outlined above becomes even more of a problem.

I assume that the women’s conveniences, which are situated directly above the gents on the next floor, are similarly laid out (I do not say “designed” because that would be an insult to designers) and are therefore equally inconvenient. But particularly annoying from the male point of view is that a two-WC arrangement is neither necessary nor appropriate in a gent’s loo, since most punters only need a pee.

Within the space available it would have been perfectly possible to install a urinal alongside a single WC that could have been housed in a cubicle of a more sensible size. In any case, other than a slightly increased cost, there is no reason why the cubicles could not have been built deeper by 30cm (12in) or more. Alternatively, their doors could have been hinged to open outwards rather than inwards.

Sadly, this is by no means a unique example of poor WC design. A search of the internet even finds images of WCs so cramped that a wedge has had to be carved out of the door to allow it to swing past the loo pan.

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