The provision of universal washrooms and change rooms in public and private spaces – either alone or alongside gender-designated options – is an opportunity to embrace the evolution of our communities’ needs, and to champion inclusivity and accessibility for all. (HCMA Architecture + Design 2018) i

A strategic priority for the University of Sydney Library is to foster a values-based culture and to build staff capability and create a safe, inclusive, and welcoming experience for all members of our community. This aligns with recent developments in bathroom provision world-wide.ii

All new campus buildings include All Gender bathrooms but there is no university-wide project to retrospectively increase or refit bathrooms. Large student numbers and increasing calls for additional staff facilities created the impetus for this project in 2022. The challenges of a 60 year-old building with limited services and heritage constraints added to complexity.

A venue that provided easy access to plumbing was identified and funding sourced from an infrastructure bequest fund. The project was scoped at the same time as a series of developments to reactivate a non-compliant rooftop terrace and a heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) upgrade in the Fisher Library. Surprisingly these disparate initiatives came together in a single project with one contractor to coordinate the logistics.

An unplanned win was the late addition of a shower to a larger All Gender bathroom. Thereby colleagues who exercise or cycle to the Library also have additional amenity and benefit. Another Diversity, Equity and Inclusion benefit of the broader project was working with a local Aboriginal owned and operated business to incorporate plantings of local species on the revamped rooftop terrace.

Philip Kent, University Librarian – The University of Sydney and Chair, IFLA Library Buildings & Equipment Section

i Designing for diversity: strategies for universal washrooms and change rooms in community and recreation facilities (2018) HCMA Architecture + Design

ii Bovens, L., & Marcoci, A. (2020). The gender-neutral bathroom: A new frame and some nudges. Behavioural Public Policy, 1-24. doi:10.1017/bpp.2020.23