Bathroom design today has also benefited from key research on anthropometrics, ergonomic design, and universal design. Designers now have a better understanding of the human body, the design and space requirements to accommodate it, and the interface between humans and their interior space. The result has been fixtures and spaces that are more convenient, easier to use, and more versatile. Following is a summary of some major research that has impacted bathroom design.
Center for Housing and Environmental Studies
Perhaps the first extensive research into bathroom use began in 1958 by Alexander Kira at the Center for Housing and Environmental Studies located at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. The research was sponsored jointly by the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station and the Plumbing and Heating Division of the American Radiator and Standard Sanitary Corporation.
The aim of the research was to thoroughly investigate what was then the unexplored area of personal hygiene, and establish basic criteria and parameters for design of facilities to accommodate these activities. The study included a laboratory investigation of the problems and needs posed by the principal personal hygiene activities.
The report covered such topics as the purpose of personal hygiene and the concept of dirt, attitudes about body cleaning, the anatomy and physiology of cleaning, and design considerations related to personal hygiene activities. The report described each activity in much detail, including the motion and position of the body before and after, as well as during, the activity. It was this study that developed a rationalization for ergonomic design in bathrooms.
Space Standards for Household Activities
Another study, conducted from 1956 to 1957 by the University of Illinois Agriculture Experiment Station, in cooperation with four other state Experiment Stations, involved taking and recording basic body measurements, as well as the human measurements for body activities. The primary objective was to determine the floor space needed by people to perform various activities in the home. Measurements were taken to establish clearances needed for activities, as well as the basic movements involved in fundamental activities, such as reaching and bending, that are a part of many other activities. This study set some very basic parameters for human space needs in the home.