Why Everyone Needs an Accessible Bathroom

Text by Patricio Martinez and Maximià Torruella. PMMT Arquitectura. Barcelona.

At some point, each of us may find ourselves unable to fully access the space around us. It might be through injury or might not; it may be long-lasting or short in duration. It may come early in life, or later but either way, an accessible bathroom will be key.

When we speak about disability and accessibility, most of us think in terms of wheelchair users or the visually impaired. But there are millions more whom, without having any kind of recognised disability, find their daily lives affected by some sort of temporary or permanent limitation in the use of their surroundings. Children, pregnant women, people with obesity or the older population all frequently find themselves affected by a clash between the built environment and their needs. But it is not the individual who has the disability – it is the environment that creates it.

However, as anyone who lived through the years of suitcases without wheels knows, product designs can and do change, and in many cases all it takes is the simplest of alterations to make an everyday product more usable forever after. Sometimes a minor adaptation in the shape, material, colour, dimension or operation of a product can make it vastly more accessible to users who might have otherwise not been able to use it comfortably, or at all. This is especially true in the bathroom, where personal autonomy is crucial. It takes a conscientious selection of bathroom elements to create a space with true Universal Accessibility.

Basins benefit in terms of accessibility through the implementation of a safety overflow and shelf for stability. And while users with vision or handling difficulties might have trouble using certain faucets with accuracy, a single- lever faucet, or one which operates via a touchless electronic motion sensor, can overcome these obstacles simply through design.

Shower trays and baths with anti-slip properties (such as Roca’s Stonex® and Surfex®) also rank high in accessibility: they are suitable for young children and the elderly, the user groups most at risk of accidents in these spaces. Roca’s thermostatic shower mixers score highly here as well, as they can help avoid burns and scalding with the 38ºC limit, after which point the temperature has to specifically be instructed to increase any further.


(Pictured: Access wall-hung Stonex® basin with integrated towel rails)

Accessible bathroom with anti-slip properties

Toilets can be made more accessible by raising the height, to aid users who may have difficulties standing up and sitting down. Lightweight, soft-closing seats, or seats that automatically raise and lower, such as those that come standard with smart toilets, contribute further to ease of use.

Even colour can play a part in an accessible bathroom. Elements that contrast against their surroundings score more highly, because they’re easier for users with limited vision to distinguish. A black profile along a shower enclosure, for example, can help define it for individuals with low vision; likewise, a white operating plate for toilets is ideal for a dark-coloured wall or vice-versa. And in terms of materials, special attention should be given to individuals with hypersensitivity; Vitreous china, stainless steel, ABS, Stonex® and Surfex® are good options in this case.


(Pictured: Access foldable shower seat)

Access foldable shower seat and shower Roca for users with limited vision

We understand accessibility as a synonym of personal autonomy in all areas of life. It is crucial to make sure all our daily routines can be carried out in inclusive environments – to guarantee a continuous accessible space for all, both in private and public. From the time we leave home to the time we return we must ensure not only that users can reach a given space, but that, once there, they can fully use all the elements. Our streets, buildings and interiors should be conceived under the principles of Design for All.

Bathrooms and toilet spaces are a fundamental piece within this sequence, a link in the chain without which it is impossible to speak of Universal Accessibility.


(Pictured: Access Roca Rimless® wall-hung WC)

wall-hung WC for accessible bathrooms

As a society we have a long way to go towards making our environments more accessible – but with each architect keeping accessibility in mind when planning spaces and each designer working towards accessible products to fill them, we’re getting closer all the time.

About PMMT

PMMT Arquitectura specialised in accessibility bathrooms

PMMT Arquitectura, founded by architects Patricio Martinez and Maximià Torruella, is an architecture company specialized in advanced healthcare architecture with high efficiency, health and universal accessibility standards.

Their work has been recognised through multiple national and international awards and mentions. What sets the organization apart is its firm commitment to innovation with a long-term vision.

Their strong belief in a universal design that includes everyone was the basis for their creation of Clear Code Architecture®, a parametric methodology to assess the Universal Accessibility of any built environment.


(Pictured: Patricio Martínez and Maximià Torruella, PMMT Forward Thinking Healthcare Architecture)

Clear Code Architecture®

Clear Code Architecture® is the first method that objectively guarantees spaces for everyone. It is the result of research through which PMMT Forward Thinking Healthcare Architecture studies the needs of any limitation in the use of built space.

To do so, they define thirteen groups that gather all the needs that any person can experience in any space, creating a parametric method that allows to objectively evaluate the level of universal accessibility of an environment and help to improve it.


(Pictured: Clear Code Architecture® percentage obtained when applied to the bathroom pictured).


Clear Code Architecture® for measuring accessible spaces