Wednesday, September 26, 2007

More a luxury room

Your bath is no more an essential routine. It is a comfort that is enjoyed by meticulously planning a lavish room.

THROUGH THE course of history, bathing has evolved from a community ritual to a more private and essential hygiene ritual. In the history of bathing, from huge community baths like the court at Versailles under Louis XV which had at least 100 bathrooms, to the stepped wells of Gujarat, all these enriched styles indicate that people enjoyed more sophisticated bathing habits. Not many houses had its private baths.
It is said, an average human, in his lifespan spends 25 years sleeping, four years eating and two years in the bath. Naturally, bathing should be made an enjoyable experience. Though some avid bathers spend four or five times more than the average person spends in bathrooms.
The bathrooms having become more than an essential room in each and every house these days. But the presence of able designers in the form of architects, and the easy availability of a wide choice of finishes and fixtures have helped create better awareness. Hence we have more creative and unique designs. For planning a bathroom, the crucial factors are the civil engineering aspects, the plumbing aspects, the amenities and maintenance issues.
While planning your bathrooms, it is essential to know how many are required and if some baths can be shared as well. This not only reduces the cost of additional fittings and fixtures, but also helps in easy maintenance as well. For example, the bathroom on the ground floor bedroom (say the guest room) can be made the common one for use. Similarly, the children's bedroom can have a common bath with a single door access from outside the rooms.
Each toilet designed could be made unique according to the age of the user and the cultural setting. Some additional facilities could be planned in a toilet to suit the Indian style of living... perhaps a small resting platform to enable one have a healthy oil massage before a bath? The flooring also can be suitably planned as non-slip surfaces with the latest range of granite slabs. Natural stones like granite, kota, Shahabad, though not non-slippery, have a very long life.
Customisation and personal touch can be achieved through meticulous planning.
Toilets can be designed to suit each ones age and needs — for kids, elders, handicapped, and normal people. Custom-made fixtures are available for different physical conditions too. Some of the key players in the sanitary ware like Parryware, Hindware, and Neycer have multiple options available. The western water closet is quite common as it is easy to use and maintain. They are now available with or without flush tank, in wall-mounted or floor-mounted options. Wall mounted water closets are helpful, as the floor can be cleaned easily. The prices range from Rs.1,500 for local brands to Rs.15,000 and upwards for imported ones. Apart from this the lighting and ventilation has to be adequate to maintain hygiene.
The choice of fittings depends on the water usage, the financial flexibility and also the water quality. For salty water conditions, PVC pipes are most suitable but the fittings have to be stainless steel. For long life, showerheads and knobs have to be wiped dry after use. The problem with PVC would be the joints and the bends. The linking joints have to be very carefully sealed and fixed in place.
For wall finishes, many options are available like ceramic tiles (6' x 6' to large 12' x 24' slabs); the normal ceramic tiles cost about Rs.35 per sq. ft and the Chinese vitrified tiles cost around Rs.50 to Rs. 75 /sq.ft. The Indian vitrified tiles cost as much as Rs.100/ sq. ft. The concept of providing borders has faded away and abstract wall tile arrangement is in vogue. For the more affluent and the rich, toilets could be planned for a bathtub or a `partial bath tub'. The minimum breadth of the toilet has to be 6 feet to accommodate the same. The tubs are readily available but it could be custom-made with natural stones or even wood.
The author is the Chief Architect of Murali Architects, Chennai.


Mohan said...

Bathing was a community ritual!? I did not know that. Very interesting.
May be I should start stinking until it becomes a community thing again, ;-)

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