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The Light Box is an elegant response to the challenge of creating a fundamental public facility. In the context of India where the quality of design and execution of a public infrastructure is largely left to the administrative mechanisms that are responsible to produce them, this restroom makes a powerful statement through sophisticated design venturing to re-think the conventional model of an urban toilet block.
With an emphasis on transparency and lightness, this project makes use of an industrial materials – stainless steel, polycarbonate roofing sheets, polyurethane floors and aluminum composite panels for durability and ease of maintenance. Designed around an existing tree as a statement of integrating urban green in architecture, the translucent central podium acts as a public space with a garden for women to rest, talk and perhaps, find a quick refuge.
Carefully detailed, this 10 feet x 30 feet box sits on a series of bio-digester tanks that treat the sewerage. By integrating the ducting in the structure, the architects ensure that the fragile accessories of the restroom are protected from vandalism. With facilities like sanitary pads vending machine with an incinerator, mobile charging points and a panic alarm, the restroom also extends essential services to women.
Designed for Agasti – a social enterprise working for urban sanitation, this project demonstrates the critical role of design and the value it can create for projects in public infrastructure in India. With light permeating through its controlled skin, ‘The Light Box’ employs a trained eye of the architect to create a non-conventional and yet, a mainstream model for a common urban typology; executed with elegance and a significant control on detail and therefore, the Restroom for Women in Thane by Rohan Chavan is a citation project for The Merit List.