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UCLoo Festival 2013


Remembering the 2013 festival of technologies, ideas and debate about sanitation in London


Make-a-thon Call for Participants

By ucessjb, on 17 October 2013

loo ladyIn collaboration with the Institute of Making, we are calling for applications to participate in a toilet Make-a-Thon as part of the  UCLoo Festival. Read on to find out more about the design brief, the event and how to apply.



Design Brief

More than 2.6 billion people in developing countries do not have access to a safe toilet, and in the developed world toilets use water – one of our most precious resources – to wash human waste away. The flushing toilet and water based sanitation systems that we take for granted in cities like London are unlikely to be replicated in the rapidly urbanising cities of the global south. The world needs a new toilet and we’re starting right here at UCL!

In conjunction with the UCLoo Festival, the Make-a-Thon will challenge designers, scientists, engineers, artists, and entrepreneurs within the UCL community to create an ecological toilet for the 21st century.


In London alone, more than 400 million litres of drinking water are flushed down the toilet every day! Therefore, the Make-a-Thon will take on London’s toilet dilemma head on by using UCL as the client for a new ecological toilet prototype. Sited within a dense urban environment, the UCL site provides makers with the opportunity to design a toilet for domestic or commercial uses within the varied programs of UCL’s campus, ranging from offices to cafes to dormitories. As London’s Global University, makers will also have to consider how their design addresses the diverse cultural composition of the UCL community.

General Parameters

Envisioned as an environmental toilet prototype that could be piloted within the UCL sanitation network, the designed toilet must be waterless or low-flush. The toilet’s power source may be connected to UCL’s grid however it is essential that the toilet uses minimal power; ideally the unit will be energy neutral. The toilet may be connected to the existing sewerage network but it should be designed for nutrient recovery. The toilet must also comply with acceptable levels of hygiene and comfort in relation to smell and cleanliness. The toilet should be accessible and be easy to maintain.

The Make-a-Thon

Makers must attend the toilet and tool induction sessions on Wednesday November 20. Makers will then have the opportunity to create and refine their designs in preparation for an open exhibit at The Bartlett on December 3, 6-8pm.

Makers will receive inductions to allow them to use hand-tools and basic power tools in the Make Space. Use of specialist tools requiring additional training and authorisation will be highly limited.

Makers will receive a bursary of £100 from the Institute of Making towards the cost of materials. All other costs for materials must be met by the makers.


When What Where
19 November 6-8pm Meet the Makers UCL Make Space
20 November 10am-12pm Toilet Induction Chadwick 217
2-5pm Make Space and Tools Induction UCL Make Space
27 November 1-7:30pm Make-A-Thon UCL Make Space
3 December 6-7pm Exhibition Wates House

After their induction, toilet makers are free to use the Make Space and tools during normal opening hours (Tues – Fri 10am – 5.30pm; Weds 1-7.30pm).

Induction pack

As part of the induction, makers will receive a package of materials to support the development of their ideas. This will include:

  • Design brief
  • Resource packet (series of documents, links, and design manuals)
    • Annotated toilet bibliography
    • Information on existing ecological toilets
    • Information on existing waterless urinals
    • Information on female urinals

Application process

The Make-a-Thon is open to all staff and students within the UCL community. Interested participants from a wide range of disciplines and departments are encouraged to apply. Applicants should be available to attend the toilet and tool induction on Wednesday 20 November and should be able to commit design and fabrication time in preparation for the 3 December exhibition.

To apply, please email Dr Sarah Bell (s.bell@ucl.ac.uk) by midnight 4th November. Your email must include the following information:

  • Name
  • Position at UCL
  • Department
  • Answers to the following questions
    1. What attracts you to the idea of designing and making a new toilet?
    2. What experience or skills as a maker do you bring?
    3. What unique set of skills or knowledge would you bring to this project?
    4. Would you be interested in working on this project individually or as part of a team?
    5. Are you a member of the Institute of Making?

Successful applicants will be notified by 11 November.


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