Many villagers in rural India are in need of clean, safe toilet facilities and places to wash laundry. Seeking to provide a solution to this pressing need, the National Foundation for India asked New Dehli-based Vir.Mueller Architects to come up with a prototype for a public sanitation facility that could be built locally, emits no waste, and most importantly prevents groundwater contamination from the existing septic tank-based toilets. Vir.Mueller responded with the Delwara Community Toilets plan, which features composting toilets, captures rainwater, and serves a vital community space.
Vir.Mueller designed the Delwara Community Toilets specifically for the village of Delwara in Rajasthan, although hopefully a similar design can be rolled out to other rural villages in need of safe facilities and community space. The design consists of two separate buildings that serve as the men’s and women’s toilets surrounding a tree-shaded courtyard. Local materials are used to construct the buildings, with roofs made of bamboo trusses covered with metal roofs made from beaten oil cans. The toilets are surrounded by natural vegetation and an orchard, and a nearby bus stop ensures that people can easily access the facilities.
Since water is a precious commodity, Vir.Mueller decided to use composting toilets, which do not require any water to operate and minimize the risk of groundwater contamination inherent in septic tank systems. Liquid waste is diverted to on-site planter beds and solid waste is collected in drums, where the hot sun causes it to desiccate; the waste can later be used as fertilizer. Rainwater is collected from the roofs and stored in hand-carved stone basins that can be used for laundry, and runoff helps to irrigate the nearby vegetation. The community toilets not only offer safe sanitation facilities for the villagers, but also provide a space for the community to gather, talk, hold meetings or just socialize.