Text description provided by the architects. A bright grotto – a contemporary abstraction of nature – to refresh shoppers amidst delicate garments and dazzling commodities, is our design concept for this underground toilet.
Situated in the commercial center of Guangzhou China, the TaiKoo Hui is a mixed use complex incorporating a shopping mall, two Grade-A office towers, a hotel, and serviced apartment. The shopping mall receives tens of thousands of visitors daily, and its amenity facilities require an upgrade. The sustainable design toilet aims to raise the environmental awareness in the public realm and to become the role model of sustainability in the commercial & retail sector. The design aims to tie back to nature, formally as well as environmentally. Sustainability, spatial sculpting and human comfort drive the whole design.
Minimum alterations are made to the original efficient layout, to minimize structural and piping alteration. It consists of three corridors of cubicles, washbasins & urinals. Wall furring was removed, the ‘found’ round and tilted square columns are painted to form a homogenous white mass to engage the space with unique shape and angle that hint the underlining structures.
White and ‘cyclorama’ setting is applied to give a bright and clean ambient – walls join the ceiling seamlessly and smoothly with curved surfaces, to diffuse light for plants to duo-function as general lighting. Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum (GRG) panels are used to form the curved surfaces, for their durability and use of recycled materials. The curved edges also eliminate possible dark, dirty edges.
Indoor plants are grown to purify air, raise indoor oxygen level, and add life and colors of nature. The plants are grown above human level for better management and tidiness. Pots are hidden inside the GRG furring, to enable the plants to form pure strokes of green. Irrigation utilizes grey water collected from the wash basins, supported by a local filtration system.
The floor is a newly-casted dark grey terrazzo stone. Here the original sandstone and grey tiles are crushed as aggregates for the new terrazzo, forming unique silver grey chips to reveal the idea of recycle.
The new washbasin counter is an all-in-one station. The white corian counter curves up to join the LED lighting strip, mirror and ceiling as one integral piece, with a tree-shaped icon echoing to its collection of grey water for irrigation. An integrated water tap cum hand dryer product is installed for sustainability and cleanness: it avoids dripping water on counter-top and floor, saves spaces and paper towels.
Waterless urinal, water-saving water-closet & vacuum toilet are applied to save water usage by 80%, and reduce waste volume by 60% on a daily basis. Two fans are added to enhance fresh air movement, to replace mechanical cooling in winter and to reduce the cooling load in summer.
The baby care rooms are also upgraded with improved facilities and a playful design. The original layout is given minimum alterations to allow for a seating area and an additional baby care room, the resulted kinked passage and simplified arches continue the ‘grotto’ idea.
Within this white grotto are rooms of patterns, each consists of a simple geometry or theme, and led through arched openings of varying heights – higher ones for the baby care room, and lower ones for the children toilets.