︎︎︎YUCHEN GAO


We live in a construct of concealment, to reside in the fantasy of repetition and predictability.

We fear for change, afraid to confront the reality of the discomfort.

We make excuses, using patterns of social construct of shame and disgust to neglect the impact of waste.

This project sits at the intersection of power, waste and discomfort, the bathroom. The politics of bathrooms influence beyond its four walls, a program designed to cater for a human necessity yet filled with social connotations of segregation and hierarchy requires a system of infrastructures expanding across a metropolis making its indentation into the landscape just so that you can press that flush button.

Power is wasted on the preservation of the carbon modernity. This project is not a site-based proposition, but it is to investigate the influence of five separated yet interconnected scales of bathroom, the policy, detail, cubicle, room and building, to challenge and instigate change in the society of carbon form.

POLICY

The interrogation begins at the redefinition of access and mobility to establish the policy of bathroom. The BCA’s strategy of standardisation and offering just an averaged understanding of accessibility does make the program accessible. Designing for access as an add on through these strategies establishes a tone that these programs are a burden, as a second thought. The modification in policy of scope and objectives curates a framework of inclusion instead of exclusion, confrontation rather than concealment.

DETAIL

In the details of bathroom, signage plays a significant role of the idea of the program. The familiar signage silhouettes with again the strategy of standardisation raises issue of misrepresentation of gender and the disability spectrum. In addition to a new signage, a spring hinge detail ensures the cubicle doors to stay open when unused. The micro design decisions effects beyond its scale, it reconnects the cubicle interior back to the public, allowing the site of waste production to be visible and aware.

CUBICLE

The cubicle is compliant to existing AS1428 aspects of appropriate accessible dimensions with a few adjustments such as the grabrails comes in forms of wall conditions and downpipes. Every element within is in its minimal form to reveal the system of the bathroom.

Stepping out, the proposition continues to interrogate the public opportunity of the bathroom. The publicised washbasins stiches the building and the cubicles, opening the once enclosed program back to the public.

BUILDING

To fully understand the influence of the five scales, Through the analysis of power usage and waste production, design hub has been chosen as the first site of interrogation of the politics or bathroom, a failed energy infrastructure that once promised to harvest electricity through its disk like façade, is now solely posing as a box of concealment. Problems of over occupancy and core-based utilities being hidden echoes with many office typologies throughout Melbourne CBD, it raises the issue of forced discipline and repetition.

The proposition instigates a series of architectural changes to the design hub by implementing a sludge and anaerobic digestion power production apparatus. It interrogates the entirety of power system beginning at the procurement of water all the way to the sewage purification process, illustrating the whole life cycle and its influence of simply using the bathroom. The reconfigured floorplates with the system of apparatus allows design hub to deconstruct its boundaries of core, utility and rigidity. The ground floor reveals and skews curating new connections between the university district, design hub and the forecourt. The proposed bathrooms interject the existing donut shape circulation forcing the building to recognise the need of the liminal, the irregular.

The project uses design hub as a testing site to analyse the politics of bathroom. The five scales of policy, detail, cubicle, room and building in conversation with the apparatus, dissect the collapse of the carbon form and its tendency to fantasise and conceal. Through the confrontation of the discomfort, the design hub has an opportunity to operate beyond as a modernist glass box, and to act as an example of the possibility to reject and react on the architecture of carbon form. This proposition aims to impact beyond just a site base project level. By renegotiating the five scales of bathrooms, it curates a series of architectural solutions in various scale to be implemented on different types of buildings, in hopes to commence the next phase of the Anthropocene.