is working on a research project.
Samira is a PhD candidate at the Birmingham City University and
is doing research on interlink
of social studies and design thereby enriching interior architecture in a scientific way for her own
creative practice and the wider field. The main focus of her research is the overlooked and
underappreciated public restroom in Germany.
Defecation and urination are essential functions to continue living. Schweder describes the act as
"a process where boundaries dissolve in which distinction loses clarity". While we relieve ourselves,
we are all equal. It is a leveller upon humankind. However, our cultural backgrounds make us different.
Cultural ideology follows us even into the spaces we consider separate from the outside world,
as the restroom. In Western societies, we are trained those excrements are a disgusting waste
due to their historical connection to sickness, needing to be flushed away and tabooed.
The design of urban public restrooms in Berlin reflects this cultural attitude, originating from a
monocultural perspective. Voices mirrored within the design are a solely male and Western-centred
perspective – still aiming to speak for everyone. It is unacknowledged that contemporary citizens of Berlin
are pluricultural. Defecation eventually must be performed as a natural process, yet the
restroom design fails to respond to these various cultures.
Within this research project, culturally different restroom habits are explored, giving a platform to
voices of otherness.
The research aims to answer the question:
"How can urban public restrooms be adapted to better serve a pluricultural society in
contemporary Berlin? What are the implications for today’s design?"
With three different Berlin neighbourhoods as case studies, this project analyses the status quo of
design through field research.
This approach is followed by human-centred research methods such as interviews combined
with "Cultural animation", an art-based methodology of knowledge co-production drawing on
ordinary people's experiences and creative abilities.
By the "process of making", unheard voices are visualized and heard within a topic considered