Continuous transformation, technology and socialisation
in the new “private spaces” in public venues.
POLI.design –Consortium of Politecnico di Milano,
presents the projects of Bathroom Design – 3rd edition,
the first post-graduate course dedicated to the bathroom environment
in public venues, developed on an exceptional location:
the Palace Montecatini by Giò Ponti.
“Bathrooms with bar”, endlessly convertible bathroom installations, mischievous “loungerie” and winking, enveloping spaces, where to appreciate a private moment alone or meet other people, socialise, discover new ways or situations of social contact. These are only some of the planning solutions proposed in the four innovative concepts developed by the Italian and foreign architects and designers who attended the third edition of the post-graduate course in “Bathroom Design – Designing private spaces in public venues”, that ended February 29th at POLI.Design – Consortium of Politecnico di Milano.
The course, with a limited access, is centred on the design, space planning and furniture of the bathroom environments in public spaces such as night premises, hotels and catering spaces.
Design, innovation and atmosphere for evolving spaces
“The transformation of the bathroom environment in public premises is connected to the evolution of night entertainment venues, night bars, restaurants and hotels, into places full of atmosphere and design, where also the toilets become qualifying elements for the image and character of the venue – explains Nicola R. Ticozzi, director of the course – The new “private spaces in public venues” are the meeting point for design, aesthetic research, functionality, ergonomics, accessibility and a conscious relation, also in public venues, with a more “hedonistic” dimension, codes that must then find expression in the project and transform the bathroom environment into a relevant specialisation field for the designers.”
“In contemporary design the bathroom environment plays a central role and is characterised by an extremely creative production. – points out Gianluca Sgalippa, architect and lecturer at the course – A creativity that is found in the design of the new spaces dedicated to body care – considering that in an hedonistic culture the body itself becomes the topic of a project – as well as the use of technical equipment – from the most basic to the most sophisticated and even up to the field of the intelligent artefacts.”
The relation between functionality and aesthetics in the new public toilets
“The bathroom in a public venue is a space like a few others where aesthetics, trends and new materials can’t exempt from functionality: many toilets must coexist and be shared, and an interaction of the function is therefore necessary. - states Francesco Lucchese, architect and lecturer at the course - At the same time, the spectacularization of the bathroom environment is today exploited as a strategic, immediate element that, in general and in particular in the public toilet, must be managed to leave an indelible memory of it.”
For these reasons, POLI.design – Consortium of Politecnico di Milano in 2006 established the first and only course in Europe of high standard training in “Bathroom Design Designing private spaces in public venues", in touch with its mission of active link between university and research, profession and production, to enhance design and innovation. The 4th edition of the specialisation course in Bathroom Design is scheduled for February 2009.
The course developed through 120 hours of research and theoretical lessons, exercises and tours guided by the lecturers to the most relevant premises and innovative spaces in Milan, and ended with a Project Work in which they expressed the acquired planning and creative skills.
Lessons were held by Politecnico di Milano lecturers and professionals specialised in different fields, and focused on all aspects concerning the design of the bathroom environment: concepts, furniture, technical equipment, sound and light technologies, accessibility for the differently abled, use of innovative materials and colour.
The topic of the final project work was the virtual refurbishment of an exceptional building: the historical Palace Montecatini that was designed by Giò Ponti in Largo Donegani in Milan, and is now seat of Radio Monte Carlo, the partner radio of the course.
The students have virtually designed the restroom area in a portion of the ground floor; they have been designed, under the direction of lecturers Andrea Manfredi and Gianpietro Sacchi, as the innovative restrooms of imaginary realities located in the palace: a design hotel and a public venue. Each team has devised a different characterisation and function for each type.
Four innovative concepts developed by four international teams
The designers, who came also from Brazil, Chile and Switzerland, were divided into 4 teams that have produced the following concepts: the team INTERIORMENTE (G. Alberti, A. Dura, F. Gallotta, E. Piras, S. Rastelli, U. Sorgato) proposed the project “WellCome”; MISSK (M. De Grazia, V. Fornaciari, I. Gagliardi, A. Genovese, A. Martellucci, M.A. Vurro) developed “Spya”; PSSSS (L. Anichini, M. Cupella, F. Giosi, M. Mombrini, R. Padilha) presented “WChange”, and IBICI (C. Ferrari, L. La Mantia, F.L. Nuccio, L. Schenatto, M. Vittori) elaborated “Toilet Bar”.
The concepts can be viewed at www.bathroomdesign.it in “Projects”.
Here is a brief description of the projects:
“WellCome” by team INTERIORMENTE
(G. Alberti, A. Dura, F. Gallotta, E. Piras, S. Rastelli, U. Sorgato)
The thread of the project WellCome is ambiguity, misunderstanding, balanced between malice and irony, in contract with the rigorous architecture of the Palace, to astonish the clientele of businessmen and women working in the surroundings. The Palace hosts a Design Hotel and a lounge-market open all day long which sells World Cooking food. WellCome, a name with many meanings, also mischievous, is the restroom for both areas and a sort of link between them. The room leading to the restroom welcomes customers like a uterus, with Plexiglas walls on a steel frame covered with a soft back-projected Tecnogel film.
The colours are grey/black, white and red. The self-standing washbasins in white Corian® are sperm-shaped and their “tale” is a blade of light built in the floor that climbs up the curve of the washbasin to become a water nozzle. Two side “isles” host on the right the urinals that are separated by a wall made of opaque glass in the lower part, and on the right the gadget area. A curved, appealing wall hides the bathroom units, which are accessible also to the differently abled: three are unisex, one is for couples, where to meet also unexpectedly, as there are two separated entrances… Silk-screened glass doors covered with Tecnogel with entangled male and female shapes pose the unanswered question of who is going to enter: is it a man or a woman? Details stimulate the five senses: doors must be touched to be opened and the black, polished ceiling, like the resin floor, is decorated with luminous sperms that move at the passage of people thanks to an innovative image transfer system. The sanitaryware is Bohémien by Simas with Icon faucets by ST Rubinetterie; a niche closed by red opal glass hides the cleansing kit of the colourful Cillit Bang line of products: each cell is independent and it is not necessary to close the entire room for the maintenance. The bathroom for couples besides two washbasins and two suspended WCs hosts also a double whirlpool bath Opalia by Jacuzzi. The windows on the street have Stopsol glasses, which are transparent from the outside and mirror-like from within.
The area preceding the bathrooms is lighted by a winding light that follows the perimeter, and by the back-lit red walls; the restrooms have Pipe lamps by Artemide. In the toilet units flooring is Croco by Rex Matouche – Florim Group, in the new zebra texture. Accessories for the bathroom are custom-made, such as bathrobes, creams, slippers, and the perfume dispensers Oikos Fragrances.
“Spya” by team MISSK
(M. De Grazia, V. Fornaciari, I. Gagliardi, A. Genovese, A. Martellucci, M.A. Vurro)
Spya is the restroom of a design hotel and a loungerie, a lounge venue where it is possible to buy underwear while having a drink. The concept has been conceived to peep, catch a glimpse, create a visual game before men and women meet in a space placed at the end of the path.
The space was designed as an installation within the structure. It is designed with a particular attention to architectural barrier-free rules and is whirl-shaped, or shape like an eye. With two side paths, the areas for men and women, with a circular common area placed in the middle. The curved walls create closed environments without doors.
The restroom area is accessible from the hotel lobby and the Loungerie and is framed by two big curved walls in reinforced concrete and glass blocks Doric by Seves, which are transparent and ribbed like Doric pillars, and create a see-not-see effect so that it is possible to have a glimpse of the area before the restroom. Fittings are self-standing, with built-in accessories, washbasins are Flow by Simas with faucets icon by ST. The washbasins are arranged in pairs to offer moments of meeting and eye contact. Inside the toilets, which are furnished with special toilet roll and bag holders, the privacy is protected by sand-finished reinforced concrete and glass blocks.
The walls in reinforced concrete and glass blocks by Seves are dry assembled thanks to a self-standing steel structure. The Led lighting system in RGB tapes is built in the structure and during the day the lights change colour: during daytime the white light offer an elegant effect to the space, by night the coloured lights create an environment full of atmosphere. The inner walls are made of a polymeric material that during the day appears opaque white while in the night is backlit and reveals a ton-sur-ton design.
The flooring is Globe-rose by Florim, the same throughout the ground floor, to underline the continuity between public and private areas.
The men and women areas are separated but not divided and the meeting between the two sexes happens in the circular space placed in the middle; the whirlpool bath Alimia by Jacuzzi suggest a new way of use of the bath in public venues. Perfumes by Oikos fragrances are used also in the bath to offer changing sensory experiences.
“WChange” by PSSSS
(L. Anichini, M. Cupella, F. Giosi, M. Mombrini, R. Padilha)
Besides a Design Hotel, the palace’s ground floor hosts a showcase of POLI.design’s activities in which architects and designers have at their disposal “temporary offices” where to work, exhibit their projects and prototypes and have contacts and meetings with professionals and companies, an area for events/workshops, and a coffee bar, the Poli.shop.
WChange, “the changing bathroom” is based on the creative feature of change and transformation, and the bathroom becomes an ephemeral, changing space with images of architecture and design that intrigue the customers.
The environments are characterised by some fixed elements and others that are movable and changing, like installations, depending on the arranging concept and needs.
The fixed elements are a floor and ceiling grate composed by tracks on which run sheets made of Scuba 464930, an innovative material similar to PVC, but elastic.
These sheets are the walls of the restrooms and enable continuous and endless solutions. A simple cut through the material, like the work of Fontana, is the entrance to the WC area, while a photocell will light up the luminous writing “occupied” on the front of the entrance.
Other fixed elements are the Turkish toilets and the round glass washbasins with photocell faucets Icon by ST Rubinetterie, as they put no limits to the mutation of the spaces. Also the drainpipes disappear and are replaced by a ray of light that goes from the floor up to the ceiling which, if interrupted, turns the photocell mechanism on.
Both floor and ceiling are covered with porcelain stoneware Mattech by Floor Gres, Florim Group, in the colour MatGreen.
The light is movable and can be made by placing lighting devices on the tracks, in the shape and quantity that is necessary. The tracks hold also the projectors that have the function to transfer on the sheets images related to the events happening in the venue, and point out the presence of somebody in the restroom area. The perfume dispensers by Oikos Fragrances are also mobile, as they change according to the different nights and events.
This planning structure offers endless solutions, two of them are shown in the pictures: in the first solution the membrane delimits two parallel paths, thus creating a space to be crossed and perceived, while in the second one each restroom-unit is an independent environment with a different colour and sound, with no distinction between men and women. The restroom for the differently abled presents only one difference: a sliding door to facilitate the access.
“Toilet Bar” by IBICI
(C. Ferrari, L. La Mantia, F.L. Nuccio, L. Schenatto, M. Vittori)
This project is based on the concept that the Palace hosts a 5-star hotel, the Giohotel, with a structure and furniture that recalls the work of Gio Ponti, a timeless design and service for travellers rather that for tourists, and a temporary restaurant, the Temporarestaurant, which is ephemeral and spectacular with a turnover of different and famous chefs every few months.
Toilet Bar, the restroom serving both structures, allows a prolonged stay in line with the trend to live the areas preceding the restrooms as spaces of meeting and socialisation. This area has become a “restroom with bar” where the space on the side of the road is reserved to the toilets while the space in the back hosts a cocktail bar characterised by solutions fit for a long, narrow area with a mirror on the rear wall and dark finishes on the walls (Matouche Cuir Tabac di Rex, Gruppo Florim). Cuts of light and parting walls (bushhammered Globe Stone by FloorGres) with two heights, which can be used also by the disabled, define the barman’s working area. The restrooms are spacious with no distinction between men, women or disabled. In the restrooms the customer is surrounded by the darkness of the environment which is lighted by rays of light that spotlight a mirror that covers the whole width of the room. Thanks to a special LED lighting built in the faucet (Collection Frau J by ST Rubinetterie with integrated photocell) the self-standing washbasins are an unobtrusive presence that gives the key of interpretation of the space. The mirror on the wall with the washbasins is made of a directional transparent glass that offers a view over the venue and the barman. Two niches on the sides of the window host two closets in old looking brass that contain all the cleaning stuff, which include Cillit Bang products. Customers entering the WC toilet find themselves… on the street: public vehicles and passers-by are reflected inside thus giving the illusion to be outside thanks to the side walls made of reflecting bronzed glass and the electrochromatic glass of the doors and windows. By touching the touch-tile on the wall it is possible to activate the “privacy function” which makes the transparent walls dark and opaque. The restrooms are for an enlarged users group and the accessories are the result of an integrated project. The sanitaryware is Frozen by Simas. The image of the space is played on the colours of leather and old looking brass that confer an urban, contemporary mood. To highlight the space, more importance has been given to the light rather than the lamps, by using the lighting solutions by Viabizzuno which disappear completely.
In contact with the industry, the market and the professional operators
The collaboration with the Academic Sponsoring companies offered the attendees a constant contact with the realities operating in the sector.
The research and application results developed during the final project work will be presented in a multimedia exhibition in “Zona Tortona” during the Salone del Mobile, and at SIA Guest’08, the Academic Partner of the course, the Rimini Fiera leading trade show for the operators of the hospitality sector, thus confirming the intense, synergetic connection between the market, the industry, research and specialised training.
The course has had the Academic Sponsors’ active support and commitment aimed at enhancing research and innovation, They are: Florim Ceramiche, Simas Aqua Space, ST Rubinetterie, Jacuzzi, Seves, Cillit Bang/Reckitt Benckiser and Oikos Fragrances, in touch with POLI.design’s mission of active link between education and the market.
Furthermore, the course has been patronised by the associations ADI (Ass.Disegno Industriale), Confindustria Ceramica, Assobagno, Angaisa, TEN Technology & Entertainment Network, NedWork (New Entertainment Design Network), and by E-interiors and Metro. Radio Monte Carlo is the partner radio of the course.
In February 2009 the 4th edition of the course in Bathroom Design
The 4th edition of the course is scheduled for February, 2009, and is aimed at Italian and foreign architects and designer.
The 120-hour course is reserved to 25 candidates and includes theoretic lessons, practical exercises and a project works by Politecnico di Milano lecturers and specialists renowned in the different technical, technological, sociological and entrepreneurial fields.