Design School


Re-inventing the toilet

Group: Design Ergonomics

Project: A competition set by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reinvent the toilet

1.5 years, completed September 2014

£111,000 for Design School (£600,000 in total)

Dr Diane Gyi


Loughborough University Schools



The Design School was part of a Loughborough University team that responded to a competition set by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to reinvent the toilet. 

The School focussed on the design and ergonomics challenges with the aim of creating affordable, sustainable, and aspirational sanitation solutions for the context of developing countries.

Our role in this high profile project was to facilitate thinking about the diversity in people by ensuring user engagement.  Understanding the make-up of users (e.g. age, gender, education, culture) and local sanitation behaviours were important for successful design.

Workshops, interviews and focus groups were conducted to understand how the new process will potentially affect sanitation behaviours in users and those who clean and maintain the toilets.

Our goal was to improve the toilet experience and add value by ensuring aesthetic qualities that are both desirable as well as functional. Solutions were iteratively explored design to create an adaptable and inclusive solution, using sustainable materials and manufacturing options.

Ideas were embodied into a demonstrator prototype which was exhibited at The Toilet summit in Delhi early in 2014. A ‘concept pack’ has been distributed and the design is available. 

Please contact Dr Diane Gyi for more information.