Critical theory of technology
Critical theory of technology
Volume of 4 pages (1100 words)
Assignment type : Speech / Presentation
The case below is about toilets and has to be looked at with a critical theory of technology view.
All the different kind of terms that is well known in the theory has to be used. If you dont know what the different terms involve please dont take it, terms like technocal code, instrumentalization theory, recontextualizing and so on, needs to be applied on the case
Techno-Anthropological Theories and Problems
Exam case: Publicly Accessible Toilets
This case below is a design guide for publicly accessible toilets. The design guide is the result of
two research projects and contains a good deal of information about types of users, problems and
possible designs. The case relates to the thematic areas of design, controversy, expertise, and
For the oral exam, please prepare a short analysis of the case drawing on one of the theories
presented in the course (SCOT, ANT, Co-construction, Post phenomenology, Critical Theory of
Technology, Feminist STS). In your analysis, you may focus on the entire case or on selected parts
If you wish, you may also draw on the literature that you have read in relation to the thematic areas
in the latter part of the course (design, expertise, etc.).
At the exam, please present your analysis during the first 5 minutes. In the following 10 minutes,
we will ask you questions about your analysis as well as other questions related to the course.
An Inclusive Design Guide
Publicly Accessible Toilets
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The focus on access to the built environment lies at
the heart of inclusive design. Ensuring toilet provision
is accessible and available to all – especially those with
continence concerns – can be considered essential to
ensuring that people can move freely about our cities,
towns and countryside.
The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design has, since its
inception at the Royal College of Art in 1991, taken a keen
interest in how the built environment can be improved
for older people through inclusive design. Whilst
there has been major design guidance on toilet design
for people with disabilities, the needs of the ageing
population and the management of continence have
been somewhat overlooked.
Gail Knight and Jo-Anne Bichard have challenged this
with their work on two research projects – RATs and
TACT3 – which have engaged the views of more than 120
members of the public and providers of toilet facilities.
By working with these two user groups, Knight and
Bichard have identifed a shared problem that design
can address, namely the management of information
on service provision.
The result of their research is The Great British Public
Toilet Map, a web-based resource that provides
information for users and providers on publicly
accessible toilets, and an innovation that we hope
will be of beneft to the wider community.
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About the authors
Jo-Anne Bichard is a Co-Investigator of the TACT3
project, Principal Investigator of the RATs project and
a Research Fellow at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for
Design, Royal College of Art. Jo-Anne has spent many
years incorporating an inclusive design perspective
into design research on public toilets and has published
nationally and internationally on the subject.
Jo-Anne is the co-author of the Accessible Toilet
Resource (2007) and The Inclusive Design of Public
Toilets in City Centres in Designing Sustainable
Cities (2009) and is currently completing her PhD at
University College London. Her thesis explores how
the design of public lavatories has failed to cater to
the needs of the public.
Gail Knight is a Research Associate at the Helen Hamlyn
Centre for Design, Royal College of Art. She graduated
from the RCA in Industrial Design Engineering in 2007
and her MA dissertation focused on the role of the
women’s public toilet as a public-private space.
Gail is an award-winning designer whose idea for SatLav,
realised by Westminster City Council, was incorporated
into the Department of Communities and Local
Government guidance on publicly accessible toilets. She
was awarded a special commendation for her work on
The Great British Public Toilet Map, the key deliverable for
the TACT3 Challenging Environmental Barriers project.
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How to use this guide
This guide has been developed from an inclusive design
philosophy. It aims to incorporate the needs, aspirations
and desires of people of all ages, abilities and ethnicities,
who will become the future users of its design outcomes.
‘Publicly accessible toilets’ refers to all toilets that the
public can access without having to buy anything. This
includes those in shopping centres, parks and transport
hubs, as well as the public toilets and community toilet
schemes provided by the local authority.
This research uses current examples of good and bad
practice to illustrate solutions.
The guide has been developed for built environment
professionals such as architects, planners and designers,
and for providers of publicly accessible toilets, such as
local authorities, to help them to make design decisions
about their facilities.
We have also aimed this guide at members of the public
who may be seeking examples of provision that is more
accessible for all potential users, or how public toilets
might be managed by the community.
Publicly Accessible Toilets – An Inclusive Design
Guide has been produced to complement the
The Accessible Toilet Resource a guide that focuses on
the design of the accessible ‘disabled’ cubicle
At Women’s Convenience A handbook on the design of
women’s public toilets
British Standard BS6465: Part 4 which has been
developed especially for the design and management
of public toilets
Details of these publications are given in the ‘More
Information’ section at the end of this guide.
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Why This Matters
Paying for the Toilet
Why Women Queue
Community Case Studies
The Great British Public Toilet Map
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Why This Matters
We live in an ageing society.
In order to maintain our health and wellbeing into old
age we are encouraged to adopt healthier lifestyles.
Many activities that support health and wellbeing take
place outside of the home, from taking walks in the local
park to meeting up with friends and relatives for social
Most design solutions for our ageing society have
focused on the decline of eyesight, hearing, physical
mobility and cognitive function. However, after dementia,
the loss of continence is the greatest fear of many
older people and often becomes the primary reason
for people to move into managed care environments.
Whilst urinary function reduces with age, it can also be
diminished by medication taken for the management
of chronic health conditions such as heart failure, some
forms of cancer, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
Continence conditions have made many older people
limit the amount of time they are away from home, and
in some cases, can be a major contributory factor in
stopping them from leaving home altogether. In 2008,
Help the Aged (now Age UK) found that being incontinent
is very distressing for older people, causing social
isolation, embarrassment and discomfort for millions.
A report on public toilet provision (Help the Aged, 2007)
found that 80% of respondents did not fnd it easy to
locate a public toilet, 78% found public toilets not open
when they needed them and over half (52%) agreed
that a lack of provision prevented them from going out
as often as they liked. So important is the issue of toilet
provision for health and wellbeing of the global ageing
population that the World Health Organisation has cited
it as a major factor in their Age Friendly Cities Guide.
There are a number of socio-cultural factors that
prevent wider dialogue about publicly accessible
toilets: that we fnd the subject distasteful, that we are
embarrassed to discuss these needs or that it is seen as
‘funny’. Yet the issue of accessing and using a toilet when
away from home is a serious barrier to wider participation
in public life.
As our ageing society reframes the retirement age,
working lives will be extended resulting in more people
continuing to commute. Therefore it is essential in our
infrastructure that we have access to toilets throughout
the transport journey if we are to support the needs of
the ageing body.
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The Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design at the Royal College
of Art has undertaken two research projects on publicly
accessible toilet provision.
RATs – Robust Accessible Toilets
ESRC Connected Communities Programme
Robust Accessible Toilets (RATs) focuses on the issue
of misuse of toilet facilities, and how the needs of the
many have been overshadowed in the design process by
the behaviour of a few. RATs aims to bring together two
distinct design perspectives, those of Design Out Crime
and Inclusive Design.
Publicly accessible toilet provision has never been
more diverse, with a range of providers offering
facilities in public buildings, stations, shopping centres,
supermarkets and local businesses, as well as Automatic
Public Conveniences (or ‘Superloos’) offered by local
authorities. Where problems exist they are often
specifc to the type of facility, the environment and the
community that use it.
RATs has used interviews taken from the TACT3 project,
and produced case studies of toilet provision in an urban
neighbourhood, a village, and a London borough in order
to better understand the location-specifc problems and
potential solutions. The research aims to bridge the gap
between user-driven design needs and anti-crime advice,
as some solutions can lead to legitimate users being
designed out of facilities along with anti-social activities.
TACT3 – Tackling Ageing Continence through
Theory, Tools and Technology