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UCLoo Festival 2013


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


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MyKindaCrowd Joins the Toilet Revolution

By ucessjb, on 10 December 2013

This week’s guest blog post comes from Georgie Court of MyKindaCrowd (georgina@mykindacrowd.com).

Here at MyKindaCrowd, we are currently running an amazing challenge with the great charity WaterAid! The challenge is for young people between the ages of 12- 18 to design an environmentally friendly toilet. The challenge focuses mostly around supporting innovative and different approaches and whilst they might not all be realistic, the challenge’s main purpose is to engage with young people on sanitation in a creative and fun way.

Too often the wild and wacky ideas of those without degrees and qualifications can get overlooked and here at MyKindaCrowd we aim to change this. We look to support the younger generation in interacting with worldwide issues such as sanitation and the environment on a level that is and suitable to all ages and backgrounds.

soilet - CopyAfter receiving many submissions for the MyKindaCrowd toilet challenge, we picked 5 very different designs to join us in showcasing some ideas at the UCLoo closing event on Tuesday the 3rd December.  Our 5 students all turned up with designs in hand – ready to discuss and boast about their thoughts and suggestions, to those attending the afternoon event.

Matthew worked very hard on his design that focused mainly around a toilet design suitable for third world country’s, which uses dirty toilet water to feed local crops and fields. Other favourite designs include the Doctor Who themed ‘Turdis’, and the compost based ‘Soilet’.

The event was great for many reasons; firstly the students who attended were encouraged by listening to inspirational speakers, they got the opportunity to speak to professional toilet enthusiasts (we didn’t even realize that was a thing before the event!), they witnessed alternative toilets options come to life in the ‘make-a-thon’ and most importantly, they were given the chance to be loud and proud about their own toilet thoughts.

girls - Copy

We felt that it was important for these students to attend the afternoon event because whilst environmental issues are everywhere, we appreciate that sometimes it can be easy with the hussle and bussle of growing – up for young people to forget about the importance for recycling, looking after the planet and generally living a green life. However, MyKindaCrowd want to constantly provide young people with a platform to connect to the world around them by inviting them to events like this and giving them opportunities to speak to those educated in different field’s and on a range of topics.

MyKindaCrowd aim to play a key role in inspiring a generation to think enterprisingly and innovatively with a whole range of issues and the environment is one of them. After all, the world needs a new toilet, and we have a responsibly to support different ideas and introduce new fresh people into the working world. Together we can do this. Young people, great ideas, education, a need for change, people that want to make the change. This can happen.

Long live the global toilet revolution and all those involved! You heard it here first, MyKindaCrowd and UCLoo, together making the world a cleaner, dryer, more toilet and environmentally friendly place. Watch this space!

toilets - Copy

The toilets are gathering…

By ucessjb, on 13 November 2013

The first one arrived by aeroplane, in three boxes, from across the Atlantic from Canada. The second will come in a taxi from Battersea. The third is patiently sitting in three timber crates in the bowels of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, waiting to ride down the road to UCL on a forklift. The final toilet will be hand delivered by its loving owner on Saturday. The toilets are coming from near and far. UCLoo Festival is about to launch!

We have toilet attendants, we have makers of toilets, we have plumbers, we have toilet paper, and the toilets are on their way. Thanks to the support of our donors and a cast of thousands across UCL and our network of friends, we are almost ready to open the festival.

The UCLoo Festival will open on World Toilet Day, 19 November. The Festival will run for 2 weeks with a working ecological toilet in the UCL quad, an exhibition of prototype toilets, a make-a-thon and other events. UCLoo Festival will build on UCL’s pioneering efforts to advance sanitation technologies with a new emphasis on sustainability and urban waste management.  We would be very pleased if you could join us for our main events (detailed below), visit the exhibitions and go to our loo! Please bring your family and friends, and promote the festival through your networks.

We can wait to meet you to talk shit!

Festival Opening

  • 19th November
  • 2:30pm The North Observatory, UCL Main Quad
  • Celebrate World Toilet Day by joining the queue outside our newly installed ecological toilet in the middle of the UCL Quad, to be opened and ‘christened’ by Provost Michael Arthur.


Meet the Makers


Rose George Keynote Lecture

  • 22nd November
  • 4:00pm **Please note room change: Roberts Building, Room 508, UCL (followed by a drinks reception in Chadwick G04)
  • Free public lecture by author of ‘The Big Necessity’ Rose George. The lecture will discuss how to talk about something that is considered unmentionable. She’ll describe her writing process for The Big Necessity, and explain how she addressed the problem of ‘the world’s biggest unsolved public health crisis.’ The talk will look at efforts that have been made over the last five years since her book was published, and consider whether sanitation is still a dirty subject, and whether frankness has any effect on policy or practical change. Please book via Eventbrite https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/speaking-about-the-unspeakable-rose-george-public-lecture-and-reception-tickets-9047518371

UCLoo Festival Website, including the programme and details of the venues www.cege.ucl.ac.uk/ucloofestival

Twitter @UCLooFestival

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ucloofestival

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.


Toilet stories

By ucessjb, on 3 September 2013

Sarah on LooFamilies are libraries of embarrassing stories. In my family embarrassing stories are catalogued by theme, as well as person. Embarrassing stories of my youngest sister usually involve overeating, notably of pickled foods. My theme is toilets, or ‘going to the toilet’. Like the time I heard the call of nature whilst climbing a big hill near a busy road with my siblings. From that height everything looked small, and I figured I was invisible to the drivers so far below. When I returned to the car park my grandmother informed me, and countless others in years to come, that I was not. Or my habit of keeping the door open to our semi-outhouse in the small village where I grew up, so I could keep an eye on the infrequent passers-by, mortifying my mother who was more concerned that the whole community could see me. These stories remind me that toilets and ‘going to the toilet’ are meant to be hidden, a lesson I have been very slow to learn.

There are no doubt very good evolutionary, sanitary, psychological and cultural reasons for hiding our toilets and going to the toilet in private. On the other hand, I like to think that outliers like me, who are slow on the uptake of toilet invisibility, serve some sort of social purpose.

We need to go public about toilets. We can no longer hide from the global sanitation crisis. Roughly two and a half billion people don’t have access to any form of improved sanitation. That means that more than one third of the world’s population don’t even have a pit latrine, never mind a flushing toilet. Water resources around the world are increasingly stressed and conventional sewerage infrastructure is expensive to build, maintain and operate.

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. There are many advantages to flush toilets and water based sewerage systems, but present and future shortages of money, water and nutrients indicate that their costs increasingly outweigh their benefits. It is time for a new model of sanitation, which is more affordable and sustainable.

There are many people around the world working to develop alternative sanitation technologies and systems, particularly to address the global sanitation crisis. The problem is that, by and large, these toilets remain less desirable than the flushing loo. The new model of sanitation needs to desirable.

And so once again I am making myself visible on the toilet. This time I am working with colleagues at UCL to curate a festival of technology and ideas about sanitation. Hosting a toilet festival in London might seem trite, given the scale of the crisis in the global south, and our contribution to solving those vast problems will be minuscule. But our proposition is that the sanitation crisis is truly global. We should all be horrified by the current global shortfall in access to sanitation, and it is wise to be prepared for resource shortages here. If London was the centre of the nineteenth century water based sanitary revolution, then it should also be part of the twenty-first century ecological sanitation revolution. If ecological sanitation is to be affordable, sustainable and desirable, then perhaps it will one day be the preferred option in London. This what we hope to contribute – to make toilets visible and to start a conversation about how we might make ecological sanitation the globally preferred option, not the only option for people who cannot afford any better.

Please donate to UCLoo Festival – just £5 or less will help – to make sure this conversation happens:  http://spacehive.com/ucloofestival2013 But hurry – we must reach our fundraising target by 17th October!

Welcome to UCLoo Festival 2013

By ucesbar, on 30 July 2013

loo lady

Hello, and welcome to the UCLoo Festival 2013 blog!

The UCLoo Festival 2013 will celebrate the global toilet revolution in the heart of London. More than 2.6 billion people in developing countries do not have access to a safe toilet, and flushing toilets use water, one of our most precious resources, to wash away our dirtiest waste. The world needs a new toilet, and the UCLoo Festival will showcase the latest revolution in public health and sustainability.

As we get closer to the Festival (taking place at UCL Bloomsbury Campus 19th November to 3rd December) we will keep you updated with blog posts from our project team, UCL academics, sanitation experts and all-round toilet enthusiasts.

UCL is a hub for research on water security, environmental governance and sustainable urban design. The project was initiated with support from UCL Engineering, the Bartlett and the Grand Challenge of Sustainable Cities. The UCLoo Festival 2013 will bring awareness of how today’s sanitation systems contribute to London’s water shortage and will highlight the importance of sustainable alternatives.

Keep checking back here for updates, and don’t forget to follow us on Twitter (@UCLooFestival) and like our Facebook page (search for UCLoo Festival). You can also support us via our Spacehive fundraising page! ** URGENT UPDATE: with only one week left to fundraise, we still need to raise 16% of our target! Please give what you can – even £5 or less will help – to make sure this conversation happens:  http://spacehive.com/ucloofestival2013 But hurry – we must reach our fundraising total by 17th October!

Thanks and see you soon,

UCLoo Festival project team