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The Lightbox Project : Beautiful public toilets:By Design Owl and presented By Häfele

In collaboration with TMC (Thane Municipal Corporation) and architect Rohan Chavan, social enterprise Agasti initiated the Lightbox project. The Lightbox is built such that a major portion of it serves as a restroom for women and children, while one block that opens from the outside is reserved for the handicapped and senior citizens.

14 units at Thane

The project saw light amidst the poor public infrastructure the city had been witness to, most of which barely serves its primary function, often making its usage futile. This is when Agasti (a venture working for the restoration of urban sanitation) made a plan that would accommodate 14 similar units around Thane and while spreading out one-kilometer away from each other.

Stationed within a 10’ by 24’ space, the Lightbox also accommodates benches to rest and plants for a change in the ambience. Built around a tree, the unit has been constructed with four blocks at two ends.

A first-of-its-kind project in Mumbai, Rohan Chavan, architect of the Lightbox was commissioned to the project by Agasti.

As per the brief, the Lightbox was to operate as a toilet as well as a social space where women could lounge, socialize or even take a breather.

The inner and outer walls of the unit have been constructed with durable and water-resistant stainless steel sheets, making it economical and easy to clean. The outer wall however is perforated, helping the unit with sufficient sunlight, cross ventilation of air and space for plants such as creepers to move around freely, contributing to fresh air.

We thought it was also interesting to learn that along with the economic and user friendly materials used for the project, the toilet blocks are fitted with a bio-digester, helping waste management and reducing the use of fresh water.

Happy with the results of this prototype, Rohan and team have been marching towards a series of restrooms, as an extension of the Lightbox concept. We’re excited to see what’s in store for the city of Mumbai, soon.

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Lab 11 Aug 2017

CQ explores the Lightbox project, a prototype in a series of public toilets.

Thane welcomes a first-of-its-kind restroom project in the city of Mumbai. Headed by architect Rohan Chavan and initiated by Agasti, the Lightbox project is a restroom designed for women, children, the handicapped and senior citizens. Standing along the highway at Thane, the restroom functions as a public toilet, as well as a social space that opens its doors to events, campaigns and even art displays. Chavan and team have been working on a series of public toilets after having seen success with this prototype.

The Lightbox Project : Beautiful public toilets:By Design Owl and presented By Häfele

A city that never sleeps, welcomes outsiders and constantly battles an overpopulation crisis, is the same city where women often find themselves without a public toilet. With few or no public toilets at all, women in the city are usually at the mercy of restrooms in shopping malls or restaurants. But there could just be hope to a new beginning, at least for Thane, to start with.

The Collaboration

In collaboration with TMC (Thane Municipal Corporation) and architect Rohan Chavan, social enterprise Agasti initiated the Lightbox project. The Lightbox is built such that a major portion of it serves as a restroom for women and children, while one block that opens from the outside is reserved for the handicapped and senior citizens. The project saw light amidst the poor public infrastructure the city had been witness to, most of which barely serves its primary function, often making its usage futile. This is when Agasti (a venture working for the restoration of urban sanitation) stepped in and took a stand for many unheard voices through a plan that would soon accommodate 14 similar units around Thane and while spreading out one-kilometer away from each other.

In collaboration with TMC (Thane Municipal Corporation) and architect Rohan Chavan, social enterprise Agasti initiated the Lightbox project. The Lightbox is built such that a major portion of it serves as a restroom for women and children, while one block that opens from the outside is reserved for the handicapped and senior citizens.

Initiated in January 2016, the project was constructed over a four-month period culminating in April. While each prototype was scheduled for 60-days, the first prototype which happens to be this one, took a little longer, given the fact that it was an experiment carried out with several innovative techniques and materials.

14 units at Thane

The project saw light amidst the poor public infrastructure the city had been witness to, most of which barely serves its primary function, often making its usage futile. This is when Agasti (a venture working for the restoration of urban sanitation) made a plan that would accommodate 14 similar units around Thane and while spreading out one-kilometer away from each other.

The Brief

A first-of-its-kind project in Mumbai, Rohan Chavan, architect of the Lightbox was commissioned to the project by Agasti. As per the brief, the Lightbox was to operate as a toilet as well as a social space where women could lounge, socialize or even take a breather. Prioritizing the safety of the women who would soon use it, the unit was to be protected from passersby by creating a barrier between the pathway outside and the toilet complex.

A first-of-its-kind project in Mumbai, Rohan Chavan, architect of the Lightbox was commissioned to the project by Agasti.

As per the brief, the Lightbox was to operate as a toilet as well as a social space where women could lounge, socialize or even take a breather.

Stationed within a 10’ by 24’ space, the Lightbox also accommodates benches to rest and plants for a change in the ambience. Built around a tree, the unit has been constructed with four blocks at two ends. While one end accommodates a nursing room that stations amenities such as mobile charging points, CCTV cameras, a sanitary pad vending machine, panic alarm system, an incinerator as well as a toilet for senior citizens and the handicapped, the other end houses two toilets along with a basin. Right at the center of it all lies a garden creating space for art displays, awareness campaigns, events and activities while also serving as a social space for relaxation.

Stationed within a 10’ by 24’ space, the Lightbox also accommodates benches to rest and plants for a change in the ambience. Built around a tree, the unit has been constructed with four blocks at two ends.

Walls

The inner and outer walls of the unit have been constructed with durable and water-resistant stainless steel sheets, making it economical and easy to clean. The outer wall however is perforated, helping the unit with sufficient sunlight, cross ventilation of air and space for plants such as creepers to move around freely, contributing to fresh air.

The inner and outer walls of the unit have been constructed with durable and water-resistant stainless steel sheets, making it economical and easy to clean. The outer wall however is perforated, helping the unit with sufficient sunlight, cross ventilation of air and space for plants such as creepers to move around freely, contributing to fresh air.

Roof

Natural light has always been an important factor for the unit. The roof of the restroom pours in sufficient sunlight all day through the roof that is composed of polycarbonate sheets.  

Floor

Rohan chose to go with Polyurethane for the floor not only because it was economical but also because it also seemed like a good fit for a public toilet. This is because the material eradicates dirt saturation and drastically eases sweeping and mopping.

We thought it was also interesting to learn that along with the economic and user friendly materials used for the project, the toilet blocks are fitted with a bio-digester, helping waste management and reducing the use of fresh water. Additionally, the unit has been designed to dispense the water recycled towards gardening and refilling flush tanks.

We thought it was also interesting to learn that along with the economic and user friendly materials used for the project, the toilet blocks are fitted with a bio-digester, helping waste management and reducing the use of fresh water.

In all, the Lightbox was constructed from 5-basic-components:

·      The underground bio-digester tank was built using the standard RCC (reinforced concrete cement) method.

·      The walls have been cladded with perforated metal, brushed stainless steel and ACP sheet.

·      The floors have been polished with pink epoxy ensuring that it is easy to clean.

·      The roof has been constructed with polycarbonate sheets.

·      The framing has been conceived in mild steel box sections.

Happy with the results of this prototype, Rohan and team have been marching towards a series of restrooms, as an extension of the Lightbox concept. We’re excited to see what’s in store for the city of Mumbai, soon.

Happy with the results of this prototype, Rohan and team have been marching towards a series of restrooms, as an extension of the Lightbox concept. We’re excited to see what’s in store for the city of Mumbai, soon.

Rohan Chavan, an alumnus of the Architecture Kolhapur college practices design in product, furniture, architecture and urban landscapes while continually working with the use of innovative materials, climate responsive design and primitive practices for sustainable living.