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December 17 - 19
National Institute of Design
Abir Mullick

Georgia Tech, School of Industrial Design
Atlanta, United States

Abir Mullick is professor at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. He has served in higher education for over 25 years, teaching Industrial Design and Architecture. As educator, scholar, researcher, and designer, he is a strong proponent of universal design. He is one of the authors of The Seven Principles of Universal Design. He is researching bathroom needs to develop a specific solution for Indian use, placing particular emphasis on public and community contexts. A Fulbright–Nehru Scholar-In-Residence at the National Institute of Design, Ahmadabad, his work is being supported by the NID, Sulabh International and HelpAge India.

Public Services:
Context and Opportunities

Almost half of the world's population - 2.4 billion, lack access to basic sanitation and 80% of disease in developing world is due to lack of access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene.

In India, 600 million do not have access to toilets which affects most urban slums dwellers and rural people. There are 13 million bucket latrines that require over 750,000 scavengers to collect excreta. 74% of the rural population defecates outdoor and 73 million working days are lost due to sickness from unsafe water and no sanitation. Only 15% of the primary schools in India have toilets, resulting in a high female drop-out rate.

This research and development investigates a complex Indian problem affecting health and hygiene of all citizens. It develops contextual research methods to study age old practice grounded in history, tradition, and culture, employing multiple methods to study this complex problem.
It will generate information about Indian body, practice, life and living, and collect data of design importance.
Finally, a specific design of public toilets for all users in urban poor communities will be proposed.

At the moment, the project is in progress and early results from three out of seven studies are just coming in. The ethnographic study with urban slum communities is producing information about why people use outdoor facilities and the implications of water shortage in public bathrooms. The evidence-based research called 'Trace Study' is generating environmental information about use, abuse, and everyday practices. A full scale simulation of bathroom environments is producing physical and spatial dimensions as well as examining the validity of current bathroom standards in India.

Yet to be determined.

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Bressler Group, December 12, 2010.

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