Sanitation in Modern Houses: 12 Projects that Explore Different Bathroom Typologies and Layouts
Despite being the smallest rooms of houses, bathrooms have always been one of the most challenging and critical to design, which often left them fairly simplified. The past few years, however, saw these spaces undergo significant change; what was once only limited to functionality, ease of maintenance, and privacy, is now being given a strong character with pops of color, classic fixtures, and patterned surfaces. Similarly for public bathrooms, where “functionality” and “ease of maintenance” are now complimented with aesthetics, technology, and high quality finishing. In this interior focus, we explore the three main bathroom typologies used in residential projects, and look at how architects have employed them through 12 examples.
Depending on the country, bathrooms, toilets, restrooms, and lavatories are considered different types of spaces. In Great Britain, Australia, Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand, a bathroom refers to a room that contains a bath or shower. In America, a bathroom is a room that contains a toilet alongside the shower and sink. In this article, the term “bathroom” will be used to refer to a room that contains a sink, a toilet seat, and a shower/bath tub, unless stated otherwise.
The design and layout of bathrooms we use nowadays date back millennia, but have evolved with every civilization and its physical environment. Each civilization has developed its sanitation system based on its own geographical, cultural, and economic factors. Early civilizations, such as those in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and China developed their units along watersheds and large rivers, taking advantage of Earth’s resources. Public baths, on the other hand, were common in Roman, Greek, Persian, Egyptian, Byzantine, and Arab civilizations, seen as places to socialize as well. During the Middle Ages and Modern Age, sewage or supply networks on a town-scale were not constructed, but were practiced and adopted individually, and it was from then that the bathrooms we know today began being built.
Design Trends in Bathrooms: Exceptional Sanitary Equipment
Fast forward to modern days, of all the rooms inside a house, a bathroom is considered as one of the most difficult to design (and renovate), due to the fact that it involves a lot of association and “pre-planning” with plumbing, electrical circuits, angular or uniquely-shaped fittings, and awfully small floor areas. As mentioned in previous interior focused articles, there is no one-size-fits-all. While designing bathrooms, however, there are a few “standards” that could facilitate the process of choosing and allocating the proper fixtures and materials, especially if the designated space is very small.
Although bathroom fixtures and their placement vary based on the scale of the space, they should always ensure user comfort. Naturally, the bigger the bathroom is, the more space there is to freely install fixtures and cabinetry. Following the smallest bathroom dimensions: 0.90 m x 1.20 m, the central axis of the toilet seat (with a protruding tank) should be at least 35-38 cm away (y-axis) and approx. 55 cm away (x-axis) from the wall. In terms of allocating each fixture, the sink should always be the first visible fixture upon opening the door. This is to ensure that if the door were to be opened by accident, the user would not be exposed to the public right away. Also, following the step-by-step circulation of how users occupy the space, washing the hands is always the last action done before leaving the bathroom, so it should be closest to the door to simplify circulation.
Read on to learn more about the three main bathroom typologies used in residential spaces and how they’ve been employed by architects through 12 examples.
Small Scale (2-Fixture Bathroom)
In the case of small-scale bathrooms, architects often limit the space to just two fixtures: the sink and the toilet seat, or the sink and the shower, leaving the other to be installed separately elsewhere. While designing such bathrooms, elements to consider include orienting the door to open outwards to avoid losing space inside, using wall paint instead of tiling, aligning the fixtures as closely as possible to be able to manage the drainage systems and plumbing easily, installing a lot of mirrors to visually expand the space, avoiding deep floor-to-ceiling cabinetry, and opting for bright and reflective colors and finishes.
33 m² flat / Studio Bazi
A | Residence / IAIA – Idea Art Interior Architects
Holiday House Hof Ahmen / Atelier Sunder-Plassmann
Casa Colorada / Once Once Arquitectura
Medium Scale (3-Fixture Bathroom)
Perhaps the most common bathroom typology is the medium scale one, which features the three fixtures all in the same room. Keep in mind that “medium scale” does not necessarily refer to the dimensions of the bathroom itself, but the fact that it is able to house all three functions comfortably. It is preferred that the minimum dimensions of medium scale bathrooms are 1.5 m x 2.4 m or 1.80 m x 1.80 m. These bathrooms often include built-in storage with the sink, a shower room (or tub if the space allows it), and additional cabinetry.
Flemington House / Lisa Breeze Architect
The Brook House / small.
High Prairie Residence / eb architecture + design
House Between the Wall / AA+A Architect
Large Scale (4+ Fixture Bathroom)
Although the function of the bathroom remains unchanged between all three bathrooms, but the large scale one allows for multiple fixtures and complimentary functions within the same space. For example, these bathrooms feature two sinks instead of one, secondary partitions within the bathroom, a private changing area, a private toilet seat, a bidet, a tub and a shower room, and a powder desk. These bathrooms are often found in the master bedrooms of large residential houses that have more than one bathroom for all its residents.
Cats’ Pink House / KC Design Studio
Viva la Vega House / Serrano + Baquero Arquitectos
Z House / Milic Harel Architects
Golden House / SHED Architecture & Design
Find more bathroom designs in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.
This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own database of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.