UCLoo Festival to crowdfund discussion on the 21st century toilet

3 September 2013

The world needs a new toilet. Every person in the UK flushes 50 litres of drinking water down the toilet daily. In the rest of the world, 2.6 billion people are left without any access to sanitation at all. As water shortages and drought become more common, we need to rethink water-based sanitation. UCLoo Festival will bring activities, events, and exhibits to Bloomsbury for a crowdfunded discussion on the future of London’s sanitation.

UCLoo Festival logo, showing a woman on the toilet

An exciting series of hands-on activities and events about the research challenge of designing a 21st century toilet is planned for the two-week long festival, running from UN World Toilet Day, 19 November, until 3 December. The event will centre around the installation of a clean, attractive, and ecological public toilet in UCL’s Main Quadrangle for visitors to use, but also spill over into displays and presentations of other toilet related activity, cutting-edge toilets and cutting edge sanitation.

The history, geography and culture of toilets will be explored through a tour of local loos, a short festival of toilet-based films, and the launch of a book about the modern bathroom.  A toilet make-a-thon will run in conjunction with UCL’s Institute of Making, challenging participants to construct an ecological toilet that meets the expectations of modern Londoners. Throughout the programme, visitors will have the chance to meet sanitation experts and contribute their own solutions and thoughts to the debate.

The UCL team – Sarah Bell, environmental engineer, Tse-Hui Teh, urban designer, and Barbara Penner, architectural historian – have received support from UCL, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, and the UCL Public Engagement event ‘Focus on the Positive’.  Now they are seeking the last £8,000 for the event from public donations via Spacehive, a funding platform for civic projects.

In return for contributions (no matter what size) to the staffing and building of UCLoo Festival, supporters will receive advanced invitation to events and special perks, including being among the first people in London to go to an ecological loo and a commemorative badge marking their visit.

Dr Sarah Bell, (UCL Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering) says:

“We need to go public about toilets. If England was the centre of the nineteenth-century water based sanitary revolution, then it should also be part of the new revolution for ecological sanitation in the twenty-first century. The UCLoo Festival will kick-start a wider conversation about what we need to do to make London’s sanitation ecological. We need your help to bring it to life – every donation helps.”

More information about the project and how to donate can be found on the UCLoo Festival Spacehive page ( ); as it progresses, updates will be documented throughout on the UCLoo Festival blog ( ) , Facebook account ( ) and Twitter feed (@UCLooFestival  ).

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