Use & function of the bathroom in the future.
The AXOR Talk "Bathroom sharing concepts and universal design: what will bathrooms in shared urban living spaces look like in future?" opened up a creative, political and social tableau. The discussion focused on alternative lifestyle forms and their structural design, the shared use of bathrooms and "demographic alignment" of the housing stock.
Taking part in the discussion were the architect Bernhard Franken from Frankfurt, Thomas Bade, who runs the Institute for Universal Design in Munich and Stadthagen, and Fabian Kinzler, responsible for Housing & Care at AXOR/hansgrohe, therefore for customers from the housing industry and operators of care facilities.
While architect Franken is interested in experiments that overturn the standards; in getting rid of existing housing limitations in order to create more space for shared areas and putting long-term stay, boarding or sharing concepts to the test, Bade and Kinzler discussed the expectations of the housing industry.
Bade anticipates something tantamount to economically-driven, forced bathroom sharing, based on the model of special care bathrooms. Design is essential in order to enable people to remain active in their own homes for as long as possible.
Kinzler stated that when it comes to current building projects there is a greater focus on standardisation “than the end user might want.”
Kinzler contradicts expectations regarding shared bathrooms: Nowadays, anyone building tiny student apartments and micro-apartments equips them with compact bathrooms. "Shared bathrooms reduce rentability". In residential nursing care, en-suite bathrooms would become increasingly compulsory.
The world’s a hotel?
Franken sees the penchant for standardisation as a “reflex of the fearful”. He cites the hybridisation of hotel and housing formats. Rather than the standardisation of products and spatial requirements, he would like to see flexible processes.
Similar to those in the office sector, where permanent renting of large surface areas is being replaced by new hotel-style concepts. These require more flexible creative solutions, which will transform the housing market. Landlords would have to also become operators, continually catering to the modification requests of users.
The world’s a hotel? Bade and Kinzler expressed doubts with regard to users and the housing sector. It’s important to define high furnishing standards, whose usability can be continually adapted to changing expectations.