Two university graduates from Bristol have designed a women’s urinal solution which aims to tackle the ongoing issue of long toilet queues.
Amber Probyn and Hazel McShane graduated from the University of Bristol last year, and have spent the last year honing their invention, the Peequal.
The design, which had its first official appearance at Bristol Comedy Garden earlier this month, takes aim at what McShane calls the “normalised inequality” of long waiting lines for women at outdoor events.
The issue of inaccessible toilet facilities for women is an ongoing one, and has been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
As Design Week reported on last year, the closure of restaurants and pubs as well as public toilets due to lockdown means new toilet solutions were, and still are, required to bridge the gap.
“This is something we’ve all experienced”
The Peequal originated as a graduate project between herself and Probyn, according to McShane. Having both worked summers at festivals, the pair had seen the issue of long waiting lines play out on multiple occasions.
The initial idea was to collate academic research and experiences, she says, by interviewing women and exploring what was currently on offer. Getting deeper into the project, however, the pair decided to use the information they had gathered to create their own solution.
“These women’s experiences really struck a chord with us,” McShane says. “This is something we’ve all experienced.”
“Women were already ‘hovering’”
McShane says the design of the Peequal can be broken down into two distinct parts. The first is the pedestal, into which urine is directed.
This part resembles a boat in shape, she explains, and the design was informed by research into how women pee. Interviews were conducted with women, both drunk and sober, to ensure the final product would be safe to use in any state.
“Our research found that women were already ‘hovering’ over public toilet seats, but this isn’t the most stable of stances,” says McShane. “So we started looking at regular hole in the ground squat toilets.”
The Peequal pedestal is somewhere in the middle of the two, McShane explains. It aims to be usable for those who have a high, low or wide squat stance, and she adds the “boat” design has been developed to ensure no splashing.
“Designed to take the strain off of the toilet queue”
The second part of the Peequal is the surrounding structure, which provides both privacy and support.
Since squatting can be unstable, the walls of the Peequal are designed to withstand leaning. The team are also working on developing a set of railings, which can help women get up once they’re finished.
Keeping the pandemic and germ transfer in mind, there is also the option of using the urinal “hands free”, McShane says.
As for privacy, the walls allow for complete coverage from the waist down. The decision not to have a lockable door was an important one, McShane says.
“It’s the most efficient solution, because this is for the women who just want to pee and get back to their event – it’s designed to take the strain off of the toilet queue,” she says.
Sustainability moving forward
The pair initially began work on the prototype together, developing the prototype themselves. McShane says this original design was crafted with recycled materials and that Probyn learned to weld in order to finish it properly.
Now, they’re working with manufacturers to create a product that will be scalable for the future.
Sustainability will be considered throughout, McShane says, from materials to shipping. The Peequal is designed to be a flatpack solution, which reduces carbon pollution by 98% during shipping.
Additionally, the pair have plans to work with Bristol-based company Pee Power – an enterprise that uses microbial fuel cells to turn urine into electricity. The Peequal’s separate waste streams, she says, makes it ideal for this.