Vir.Mueller Architects designed a prototype for community toilets in Rajasthan, a rural area of India. Public sanitation services are vital in India, yet the country is severely lacking such facilities. With this in mind, the National Foundation of India asked the architects to create a prototype, with the hope that the model could be distributed around the area, helping all the families in the village of Delwara.
Vir.Mueller Architects held a series of community meetings with the citizens of Delwara village to develop a proposal that could be locally built, emit no waste, and, most notably, prevent groundwater contamination from the existing septic tank based toilet serving the village.
Due to India’s climate, and the limited water supply available, the architects immediately thought to create a dry-composting toilet where the urine would be diverted to on-site planter beds, and the solid waste would be collected in sealed drums, desiccate in the hot sun, and be sprinkled as fertilizer.
Using rainwater collection from the metal roofs (which are constructed using beaten oil cans over bamboo trusses), the water is collected in stone wash basin carved by the vilagers. These basins are fit for cleansing and washing laundry with the runoff irrigating the bamboo and fodder grasses.
Yet, the design is not simply a toilet facility, but rather brings a bigger idea about establishing a community space for the villagers. The addition of an orchard would serve as a gathering place for village meetings, and the proximity to the main bus stop would ensure steady usage of the toilet facility.
Not only is the project well conceived, but the notion of communicating with the villagers to design what will meet their needs (namely the laundry/washing stations), has resulted in a successful model for the village.
“The villagers, especially the women, have wholly embraced the idea of a dry-composting toilet as opposed to a water-based septic system. For them, having never had a toilet, there is no preconditioning or bias towards flush-toilets, and the advantages of this low-tech, water conserving system seem obvious for their arid desert climate.”
Project Name: DELWARA COMMUNITY TOILETS
Location: Delwara, Rajasthan, India
Project Area: 600 sq. feet
Architect: vir.mueller architects
Christine Mueller / Pankaj Vir Gupta (partners)
Harshvardhan Jain (project manager)
Saurabh Jain / Sarah Gill / Helena Westerlind(project team)