Cloakroom, lunchroom & toilets

Bleacher seating in the lunch area at the Science Museum, London: a class of 30 can be seated in each section
Bleacher seating in the lunch area at the Science Museum, London: a class of 30 can be seated in each section

Getting the cloakroom, lunchroom and toilet facilities right for your space and audience is key to a successful experience, and sets the tone for the rest of the visit.

Using the ‘day in the life’ of your space and the visit walk-through will help you identify when groups will need access to these facilities and therefore what type and size of provision to consider.

Cloakroom

Most learning spaces don’t have room for coats, bags or buggies. There are transportable bins and racks that can be wheeled in and out and are collapsible when not in use: these are a good solution where dedicated cloakrooms and lockers are not available. Remember that when children put their coats on, they tend to ‘bunch together’ in the coat area – do you have sufficient space there?

Lunchroom

Where will visitors eat their lunch, and how will waste be disposed of? Is there a water fountain? Bear in mind you may discover that most groups arrive and eat lunch at different times, so a welcome and cloakroom area could also serve as a lunchroom. Having toilets near these spaces is extremely useful.

Toilets

The key issues about toilets are:

  • Where they are sited. Can they be exclusively for those using the learning space, thereby addressing child protection issues?
  • How they are fitted-out. Will a standard fit-out work for all your users, including children? Is safe-guarding a factor?
  • How many to install. Will they be used regularly through the day or only for a short span of time? Will they cope with short periods of heavy use, e.g. 40 children in the space of a 15-minute break?

There should always be accessible toilets for users with physical disabilities. If your site has aspirations to work with adults with disabilities, then installing adult change facilities, if there aren’t others available locally, would be sensible.

Cost will determine some of your choices. Some sites have toilets exclusively for everyone using the self-contained education centre. Fittings can be a mix of adult and child level, or accessible to both. The main concerns are that the facilities should be well-designed, robust, readily accessible, easy and inexpensive to maintain, child-friendly and safe.

If your audience includes families, consider where you want to install baby change facilities. If they are put in a disabled toilet, parents may feel awkward using the space unless it is identified as dual use.