Chiara Del Core 31 mar 2019 Articles 0 comments

The bathroom: where function and aesthetics meet

1. The evolution of the bathroom concept

For a long time, the space of the house destined to host the bathroom has been considered simply a service environment with reduced dimensions and sacrificed aesthetics.
With social changes and changing needs, today the situation is completely different: the bathroom is considered a space in which to relax after your daily efforts and take care of your body. For this reason, it is necessary to pay close attention during the design process, in order to make correct and commensurate choices on an increasingly demanding user.
Mirror of the socio-cultural structure of the time, in recent years the bathroom has conquered a role equal to that of the other spaces in the house. Unlike what happened in the past, it must satisfy the dual need for functionality and aesthetics. To this end, spatial organization is a fundamental element for good design success and at the same time the decisive factor is the choice of furniture and finishes made according to good taste.
But let's see in practical terms what are the main differences that distinguish the services of the past from those of today.
  • The position
If the bathroom once occupied residual spaces with reduced dimensions or was placed between one room and another, this is no longer the case today. Like the other rooms, it is placed in a strategic position in order to facilitate its most comfortable use.
If there is more than one bathroom, it is customary to insert the master one near the bedrooms, while the one intended for guests, closer to the living area so as to be accessible to strangers without having to go through the whole house.
  • The walls
The custom of the past was to completely cover floors and walls at full height with ceramic material. Today, regardless of particular choices dictated by personal taste, it is customary not to go above half the total quota. Sometimes the choice is also to avoid the tiles in favor of simple water-repellent paints, finishes in treated wallpaper and wall stencils.
  • The taps
If the taps of the past years were almost all the same, today there are countless solutions on the market that can satisfy the most varied needs. Dimensions, materials and performances are studied in detail to offer high performances.
  • The sanitary ware
They were once large and bulky, with the drain on the ground and the pipes visible.
Today they are suspended, round, irregular and colorful, real design pieces that in addition to being functional, furnish giving personality to the environment.
  • The shower
It certainly has the better of the tub: more practical and functional, it takes up less space which is useful to be used by lockers and baskets for linen. Present on the market in all shapes and sizes, it is also possible to make it to measure.

It is clear how the more frenetic daily rhythms lead to preferring the shower rather than the bathtub, how aesthetic needs make the choice of a refined design a fundamental requirement and how the need for privacy leads to distinguish the services in the owners and for guests . These are some of the causes for which the house and its spaces are considered a direct mirror of society in continuous evolution.

Example of a bathroom from the 70s and an example of a contemporary bathroom
Source:   / 

2. Regulations

In order to obtain livable and safe spaces, it is necessary to follow some essential rules according to the current legislation on sanitation. However, in Italy there is no single and valid instrument at national level but each single municipality has its own Building Regulations. It will therefore be up to the designer to consult that of the municipality in which he will operate. This type of legislative organization was established in 1975 by the Ministerial Health Decree, the date from which each local government had the obligation to draft its regulation on the basis of national legislation.
The latter establishes only and exclusively some rules to be followed for the insertion of sanitary ware in terms of number and measures, in addition to the mandatory presence of natural ventilation in the case of the first bathroom. However, it is good to use some precautions in terms of ergonomics so that the result is functional and comfortable for users.
As regards the environmental measures, the minimum standards vary from municipality to municipality but a minimum height of 2.40 meters at national level has been approved, a measure lower than that of the other environments instead fixed at 2.70 meters. In terms of area, for the first bathroom for example, the municipality of Turin has 3 square meters with a width of not less than 1.5 meters, that of Milan raises the standard to 3.5 square meters with a minimum width of 1.70 meters. Differently, in some Italian Regions more freedom is given and a minimum areal measure to be respected is not established.
In the case of a second bathroom, the restrictions are less and there is a wider tolerance margin: the dimensions can be smaller and the ventilation activated by specific fans and devices. As for the size of the sanitary ware that will furnish our environment, they change according to the shape and design chosen according to personal taste.
In any case, the washbasin with a countertop will have a footprint of approximately 90x50 cm and 10 cm per side which will distance it from the rest of the fixed furniture. Afterwards, the bidet and the toilet will have mostly standardized dimensions, with a width equal to 38 cm and a depth equal to 55 cm. For the first, 25 cm will be needed on both sides to ensure an easy seat, while for the second 15 cm will be enough. All sanitary fixtures will have to distance themselves from the opposite wall by at least 60 cm to rise, to obtain more comfortable solutions. For the choice between shower and bathtub, the size of the bathroom will be decisive; the measures of a standard shower tray are 80x80 cm while those of the bathtub are 180x70 cm. In both cases, what really matters is making sure you have free and simple access, avoiding placing any other sanitary ware or furniture in correspondence with it. Of course, those listed are universal sizes that can increase according to the available sizes, guaranteeing an increasing level of comfort.
Some of the minimum distances to be guaranteed in the bathroom environment between one sanitary and the other, have been listed in the previous paragraph. According to current legislation, the sanitary facilities that must be present in the room are: sink, shower or bathtub, bidet and toilet. They must be distributed in plan with detachments that must be respected in order to ensure comfort and ease of use. In addition, the sanitary facilities must be located near the water and electricity systems. Usually 25 cm of distance between wall and toilet, between toilet and shower, between toilet and washbasin is considered sufficient, while 60 cm between sanitary and wall opposite.
From the point of view of natural lighting and ventilation, the spaces intended for sanitary use must have at least one opening towards the outside, especially in the case of the first bathroom. The window must be openable and with a glass surface of not less than 0.5 m2.
In the event that you wish to obtain a second bathroom, it is important to comply with the directives of your municipality, consulting the technical office. It is always necessary to guarantee ventilation, even in the case where it is not possible to enjoy the natural one, through the activated one that works thanks to systems that allow the exchange between the stale air inside and clean outside air.
As for the internal distribution of the rooms and the specific location of the bathroom, it is good practice to divide this service space from rooms intended for other uses. If the services are located near the kitchen and living area, the designer will take care of inserting an anteroom in order to shield the passage from one room to another. This type of solution, on the other hand, is not necessary if the bathroom is located in corridors, entrances or in a position inside the sleeping area.
According to the new variant of the law, inside the bathroom it is necessary that light points and water points are separate and separate for safety reasons and that the sockets are placed in correspondence with worktops, mirrors and washing machines.

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