Nimtim Architects has won an invited competition, organised by Geberit with Architecture Today, to design an inspirational and functional family bathroom measuring just six square metres in size.

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Loo of a Lifetime by Nimtim Architects

As any architect worth their salt will know, designing a small bathroom that can combine functionality and spatial efficiency with visual appeal and comfort is no easy task. In recent years, evolving user requirements relating to well-being, hygiene, user friendliness, and accessibility have added further challenges to this already tough discipline. So how do you design an inspirational bathroom that can accommodate all these needs but only measures six-square metres?

The Geberit Bathroom Design Challenge, organised by Geberit, in association with Architecture Today, set out to answer this question by inviting White Red Architects, Nimtim Architects, and Office S&M Architects to submit family bathroom designs using its high-performance sanitary products and systems.

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Judges (left to right): Lynne Clapham-Carter, Tina Norden, J-J Lorraine, Maria Cheung, and Isabel Allen

After a close fought battle, the jury – chaired by AT editor Isabel Allen and comprising Maria Cheung, director and head of interior design at Squire & Partners; J-J Lorraine, director of Morrow + Lorraine; Tina Norden, interior designer and architect at Conran and Partners; and Lynne Clapham-Carter, specification sales manager at Geberit – declared Nimtim Architects the winner.

The judges praised Nimtim’s Loo of a Lifetime scheme for its functionality and flexibility, with J-J Lorraine calling it ‘a Swiss Army Knife of a bathroom.’ They also complimented the design’s multi-generational inclusivity and strong material palette. Special praise was also reserved for the two runners up with the jury congratulating Office S&M Architects’ Bathroom for Every Body for its tactility, functional separation, and meticulous approach to designing-in well-being. White Red Architects’ Water-Usage Closet was applauded for its dynamism and sustainability credentials, with Maria Cheung likening it to the futuristic water- and life-preserving ‘stillsuits’ from the science-fiction film Dune.

Nimtim Architects Loo of a Lifetime

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The inclusive bathroom is designed for everyone at every stage of their life, from newborn babies and young families to adolescents and older people

For Nimtim Architects, the bathroom of the future is the one that can last a lifetime – or several lifetimes. We need to start creating spaces that are adaptable, flexible, resilient and enduring, given the carbon and materials costs associated with construction.

Our bathroom needs and expectations change enormously over time. As a consequence, bathrooms need to be safe but stimulating when we are babies and toddlers, calming and reassuring as we enter adolescence and adulthood, and accessible and easy-to-use as we reach old age.

We wanted to create a bathroom that could meet all these needs, while remaining a space that is thoughtfully and elegantly designed; a space you would want to spend time in, where practical requirements do not compromise aesthetic or atmospheric qualities. Our bathroom design is for everyone at every stage of their lives. It is also intended for multigenerational living, which is a growing trend in UK towns and cities.

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Plan and elevations. The design features white sanitary ware, a riven stone floor and flexible storage systems made from recycled plastic

Creating a bathroom for a lifetime means choosing materials and products that are simple, strong and long lasting. We have given consideration to the carbon footprint and sustainability of all the materials and equipment used, as well as their longevity and reliability.

The Gerberit sanitaryware and brassware products chosen for the design are uncomplicated and easy-to-use for all ages. They rely on straightforward technologies and materials that have been tried and tested over many years.

The flooring is a naturally riven UK stone, which is tough and durable, as well as naturally slip- and water-resistant. It has existed for millennia beneath the ground and has the potential to last for centuries in a bathroom. Built around this is a highly articulated and flexible system of storage and adaptable features, designed to support different age groups using the space. These items are constructed from recycled plastic board – turning waste plastic into a high-performance material that is robust and resistant to moisture and damp.

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Bathroom as a sanctuary

Conceived as objects within a hardworking environment, the sanitaryware supports adaptable joinery and cabinetry. The latter can be folded away to open-up the space or employed to add articulation and definition to the various user functions taking place. The bold joinery elements are warm and tactile, contrasting with the simple white sanitaryware. We have chosen a neutral material palette to complement the users’ other belongings.

Overall, our bathroom is designed to be interactive; to serve a range of users and their individual needs throughout their lives. The design concept revolves around flexibility rather than limitation, enabling the family and/or individual to take ownership.

Geberit products used
• Geberit ONE washbasin and wall hung toilet and cabinet
• Sigma30 dual flush plate
• ONE cabinet
• Soana bathtub

Office S&M Architects – The bathroom for Every Body

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Designed to promote well-being, the bathroom includes undulating massaging tiles, warm circadian lighting, air cleaning paint, and curved sanitaryware

Office S&M Architects’ proposal is designed with well-being at its heart. It is intended to create a space at the centre of the home, which is a joy to use for each member of the family – female and male, young and old. To achieve this, we selected innovative products from Geberit that promote well-being. From touchless flush plates to baths that hug the shape of the body, we have used products that are accessible, easy to use, and pleasurable. This creates a bathroom that is designed for every type of body.

To complement these products, we have designed a bathroom that promotes well-being through innovative and practical means. Undulating massaging tiles, warm circadian lighting, and air-cleaning paint deliver wellbeing benefits, while the curved Geberit sanitaryware creates a welcoming space, that helps wake you up in the morning and unwind after a long day.

We have used a calming palette of functional colours. The warm buttery yellow ceiling and the lilac tiled plinth make the space appear larger due to complimentary colours visually pushing apart. This spaciousness is accentuated through the use of curved edges to the sides of the room, which mean our eyes do not see corners. The curved edges also hide soil pipes and ventilation runs, making the space easier to clean. Overall, this ensures that the bathroom feels both spatially and functionally generous.

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Curved D-Tiles create a soft but durable interior space. They are raised across the floor, providing a foot massage as you walk to the bath. There is also tile-clad bench to rest on or sit while bathing children. The tiles are warmed by underfloor heating, with hooks to dry towels on. The versatility of the tiles is further demonstrated by their ability to create book rests for reading, storage space and plant pots.

The upper wall finishes reduce mould by employing natural plaster. This is coupled with a high-quality ventilation system, as well as carbon filters to tackle particle matter, and a UV system to deal with airborne bacteria.

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Warm dimmable LED lighting supports our circadian rhythm, creates a relaxing atmosphere, and removes the need for candles, which can release carcinogenic toxins and soot when burnt. Using red wavelength LED light instead of traditional white light at night has been proven to improve sleep, melatonin level, and performance the following day.

The benefits of indoor plants have been scientifically shown to improve air quality and mood, while reducing stress levels, blood pressure and fatigue. They can also remove VOCs, and we have included a range of plants, including common ivy, Boston fern, banana and aloe vera, which all enjoy the warm moist atmosphere of bathrooms.

Our scheme was designed collaboratively with Wellbeing specialist Ekkist, and SLAB, who produced the main visualisation conveying the detail and atmosphere of the final proposal – the bathroom for Every Body.

Geberit products used
• VariForm elliptical lay-on washbasin
• VariForm cabinet
• iCon wall-hung toilet
• Sigma80 touchless flush plate
• Soana bathtub
• Option illuminated mirror
• Geberit ONE wall-mounted washbasin tap

White Red Architects – The Water-Usage Closet

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Exploded axonometric showing bathroom pod, water storage tanks, greywater processing equipment and illuminated pipework

White Red Architects believe that design can provide solutions to the everyday problems we face and that is what informed our approach to this competition.

Most people do not appreciate the inner workings, usage and wastage concealed within the walls of today’s bathrooms. In the UK, a typical person uses 142 litres of water per day, much of which ends up at an external treatment plant. But there is no need for this to continue. By introducing a rainwater harvesting and water recycling system, water can be reused throughout the bathroom with reliance on mains water practically eliminated.

This led to an important question: if users are more aware of their wastage, could this amount be reduced? The solution is the Water-Usage Closet, a prefabricated eco-resin pod that celebrates the inner workings and usages involved in the everyday bathroom. The six square-metre enclosure provides all the necessary sanitary appliances required by the average person, but in a completely unique way. It is aimed at the single person or family who is making a conscious effort to reduce waste and lead a more sustainable life.

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Bathroom pod plan

The bathroom contains a wall-mounted toilet with a concealed cistern and actuator plate, a wall-mounted basin with a stainless-steel trap, an illuminated mirror, a wall-mounted stainless-steel tap, and an overhead rainfall shower.

Water usage and wastage is ever present in the Water-Usage Closet. The pipes connecting the storage tanks to the bathroom appliances begin to glow when they are in use, highlighting processes that would usually go unnoticed. This is achieved by using motion- activated OLED lights set within the recycled plastic pipes. The system allows the movement of water and waste to be seen without revealing the contents of the pipes themselves.

The pipes and appliances within the pod are also linked to digital screens that sit flush within the translucent pod walls and display key data relating to the usage and wastage produced by the bathroom. By ensuring these devices are prominently displayed, the user will be constantly reminded of their usage and of the continuous cycle that’s occurring within the bathroom and its servicing pipes and tanks.

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Service pipes and appliances within the pod are linked to digital screens that display key data relating to water usage and energy consumption

The materials that have been used to create the Water-Usage Closet have a strong connection to circularity and sustainability, much like the pod itself. These support the design intent and ambitions we have set out, underlining the need to reuse and recycle wherever possible in day-to-day life.

The Water-Usage Closet also presents the perfect backdrop for our selected Geberit products. These were chosen for their minimal aesthetic and clean lines, placing an even greater emphasis on the complexities going on ‘behind the scenes’.

Geberit products used 
• Geberit AquaClean Tuma Comfort shower toilet
• Sigma actuator plate
• Geberit ONE Washbasin, vertical outlet
• Dip tube trap
• Option illuminated mirror
• Circular floor drain

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