The loo as we know it has been around since Thomas Twyford cast the first ceramic toilet in 1870. According to Alfred Zinhobl, the curator of Klo & So – the museum for historical sanitary equipment in Gmunden, Austria (yes, it is a toilet museum),
Compared with the hitherto common varieties made of cast iron, this was significant progress,Ceramic is more hygienic, easier to clean and cheaper to manufacture.” Hence ceramic paved the way for the toilet breakthrough, as it could now also be industrially manufactured at low cost.
Now students at University of the Arts London, Central Saint Martins school, are trying to reinvent it. The winning design in a competition, by students Victor Johansson, Pierre Papet and Samuel Sheard has some interesting features, but raises as many questions.
It is a squat toilet, which has been long been known to be a lot more healthy than the sitting toilets that we use in the west. "By changing position we could potentially reduce intestinal cancer and haemorrhoid issues." That's because you get a more complete evacuation, and are in the position our bodies were designed to be in.
The wellbeing toilet looks at the health and wellbeing aspect of getting rid of your bodily waste by enhancing the position of your body by enabling you to squat rather than sit.
OK, but I don't understand why they made it so high. I cannot imagine older people climbing up on this thing and being comfortable, so high off the ground. It's just not necessary. If the thought was that someone could use it either way, either squatting or sitting, that would be interesting. But it looks too high for that and it isn't mentioned.
Alexander Kira figured out how to design a squat toilet for westerners in the sixties, and he kept it low and kept the user's feet on the ground. It is wonderful that the Saint Martins students are trying to update a squat toilet so that westerners will use it, but we are not quite there yet.