With Neurodiversity Week beginning on the 13th of March, we wanted to talk about the importance of considering neurodiversity when designing commercial washrooms.
As the conversation around neurodiversity continues to expand, architects and interior designers have an important role to play in creating commercial washrooms that are designed with this in mind. From cubicles to lighting and colour palettes, there are many opportunities to create a functional, aesthetically pleasing and inclusive space.
Neurodivergent is an umbrella term that describes people whose brain structure, chemistry or function is different from what is considered typical. Autism, dyspraxia, ADHD and dyslexia are included under the umbrella of neurodiversity. Designing washrooms for these individuals involves considering how their unique needs can be met through purposeful design choices.
In this blog post, we will explore the various elements of washroom design that can make a commercial washroom more accessible for neurodivergent people.
How Do Built Spaces Impact Neurodivergent People Differently?
The world we live in is built around the concept of “neurotypicality,” meaning that people who don’t fit this standard may face significant challenges. Neurodiversity is the different ways people think, learn, and process information. As our understanding of neurodiversity grows, it is becoming increasingly important to consider how our built environments can affect neurodivergent people.
With Neurodiversity Week upon us, it is a good time to reflect on the need for inclusive design that is tailored to the needs of neurodivergent people. Spaces such as public washrooms can be especially challenging for these individuals. This is due to the often-overwhelming sensory input and lack of awareness of their specific needs. As designers, architects, and builders, it is our responsibility to ensure that our built environments are as inclusive as possible.
When designing a commercial washroom, it’s important to remember that the focus should first and foremost be meeting the need of the user. With this in mind, to achieve good design we must consider that not everybody’s needs are the same. At Maxwood Washrooms, we understand the importance of considering neurodivergent people when designing commercial washrooms. We specialise in designing commercial washroom solutions that are inclusive, accessible, and inviting to all.
Why is Inclusive Design Important?
As society continues to widely recognise the need for inclusivity, it is more important than ever to make sure you’re at the forefront of inclusive design. With more than 1 in 7 people in the UK having neurodivergent conditions, a design that does not accommodate neurodiversity is no longer an acceptable standard.
By paying attention to the specific needs of people with different kinds of neurodivergent conditions and developing design solutions to meet those needs, washrooms can be spaces that are accessible to everyone. This means taking into account factors such as light, noise levels, and colours that prevent the space from being overstimulating and hard to navigate.
By focusing on inclusive design, architects and interior designers can ensure the spaces they create are not only beautiful in form, but successful in function. When it comes to commercial washrooms, these considerations are especially important. Safety, comfort and function are essential elements of a commercial washroom, making it an important space to accommodate diverse needs.
So, How Can You Design Commercial Washrooms With Neurodiversity in Mind?
There are many aspects to consider when designing commercial washrooms for neurodivergent people. Individuals with neurodivergent conditions face significant challenges day-to-day due to spaces that were not designed for their needs. Understanding these challenges is the first step in ensuring that your commercial washroom is functional for neurodivergent people.
Sensory overload or overstimulation is a reaction that occurs when the senses take in more information than the brain can process. Overstimulation can happen to anyone but for neurodivergent people, it can lead to an uncomfortable feeling of being overwhelmed and needing to escape the stimulus which can often feel debilitating. So how do you design commercial washrooms with this in mind? Considering lighting can be a great place to start.
Often neurodivergence can come with light sensitivity, meaning flickering, excessive brightness, and humming can make it hard to focus. Using the right levels of lighting in your commercial washroom can make it easier for people with neurodivergent conditions to operate in the environment without being affected by overstimulation. Consider natural light or soft lighting elements in your washroom design.
Overly loud noises can also be overwhelming for those who are sensitive to noise, so sound levels in your washroom are an important consideration. If you imagine a commercial washroom with, hand dryers whirring, taps running, toilets flushing and general chatter, you can start to understand why for some this could feel overstimulating. Here at Maxwood Washrooms we have independently tested the soundproofing qualities of our cubicles in a real-life (non-lab) setting and can help advise on the best materials and finishes to choose to reduce harsh sounds and improve sound insulation. You can read our full soundproofing report here.
Another crucial consideration is the needs of those with neurodivergent conditions who will be helped by a caregiver. For example, wider stalls have more room for a caregiver to help whilst still allowing personal space. Also beneficial is the availability of unisex washrooms to allow caregivers to help those of the opposite gender without having to face misunderstandings from other washroom users. Factors like this can go a long way in making sure neurodivergent people feel comfortable in a space and allow them the equal access that they deserve.
When choosing colours and selecting finishes, consider tones that create a calm and relaxed environment. Bright and harsh colours can contribute to overstimulation which will prevent your commercial washroom from being experienced in the way it was intended. At Maxwood Washrooms we have a wide range of colour and finishing options to choose from. Our expert team are always on hand to advise on the best choices for your space.
By considering the factors discussed, architects and interior designers can create washrooms that are inclusive and supportive for all members of the community. By using Neurodiversity Week as an opportunity to raise awareness about inclusive design and the needs of neurodiverse people, we can work towards creating more welcoming washroom environments for everyone.
If you’re interested in creating inclusive commercial washrooms, book a consultation today:
We’re available via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 020 3657 7615.