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Style + Strength


Posted 28 February 2002

The superior strength of stainless steel has long made it the material of choice for prison toilet facilities. Innovative styling has now opened up a new market in public restrooms. Increasingly, venues are turning to stainless steel to make their facilities safer and reduce costs in the long term.

Vandalism in public facilities is a widespread occurrence, with some pub and club owners forced to replace a toilet every few weeks. While the initial outlay may be higher for stainless fittings, the cost of replacing and installing a ceramic pan can be recouped after just one instance of vandalism. Unbreakable stainless steel also eliminates the risk of injury from sharp ceramic shards and the inconvenience of effluent overflow.

Stylish designs mean that aesthetics aren't sacrificed for practicality. Martin O’Brien, General Manager of the recently refurbished QA Hotel in Brisbane’s Teneriffe, says stainless steel was the logical choice because it’s "tough as teeth, durable and looks good. Stainless steel was the best way to go - its clean lines never go out of date." As part of a total makeover, the QA replaced ceramic tiles and fittings with stainless steel. O’Brien says vandalism in pubs is a big issue, with "punters" taking out their frustrations in the bathrooms and causing a lot of damage to conventional fittings.

ELEGANT AND FUNCTIONAL
Metal, timber and black are the predominant themes in the $3 million refurbishment of the 120-year-old Regatta Hotel, overlooking the Brisbane River. Conceived by owner-developer Steve Hammond, the renovation juxtaposes high tech and rustic, with gleaming metal and glass surfaces set against timber frames and sandblasted brick walls. The metallic theme continues outside with stainless steel topped café tables on the pavement and verandahs, and aluminium louvres replacing traditional lattice.

Stainless steel is integral to the washroom design, combining clean, minimalist lines with durability, vandal-resistance and minimum maintenance. Push pad controls replace vulnerable taps, while moulded stainless steel pans with in-wall slimline cisterns and push pad flush eliminate other targets for vandals. Stainless steel is used for mirrors, air-towels, soap and toilet paper dispensers.

Stainless steel fabricator Stoddart, who drew on the resources of ASSDA to develop a commercial product range, says their pans are often specified as part of a suite to fit in with a high-tech, architectural look. This project used Stoddart's standard shrouded toilet made from satin finished, 316 stainless to withstand heavy duty cleaning products. A pin inside the bowl prevents objects like wine glasses being flushed into the plumbing. The flat plate design of the rim flush makes the toilet contraband-proof and the unit has the advantage of being able to be fixed onto a wall from the inside.

Stainless steel features heavily elsewhere in the bar frames and counters and in a microbrewery. Three 2 000 litre stainless steel tanks with decorative copper cladding have been incorporated into the design of the downstairs bar. The beer is piped to fermentation tanks in the upstairs bar, which form a backdrop to the dancefloor. Apart from providing a theming enhancement to a predominantly beer pub, the installation of a microbrewery was a commercial decision in response to a growing demand for boutique and specialty beers, says project manager Rob Forbes.

BEACHFRONTS AND PARKS
Local authorities present another significant market for stainless steel amenities. Gold Coast City Council, which for some years has had a policy of replacing vandalised ceramic toilets with stainless steel ones, is now installing stainless steel pans in all new public convenience blocks. To improve safety, the Council is also considering installing stainless steel woven security mesh near the entrance of public toilets. The one-way screen allows people to see if is there is a threat outside the building before exiting.

STYLISH STAINLESS SHOWERS
In conjunction with Stoddart, Gold Coast City Council is developing a prototype stainless steel shower to eliminate the corrosion problems of beachside installation. Ian Munro, Supervisor in the Council’s Building & Maintenance section, says the project has attracted interest from other councils on the coast. Seven showers are currently being tested. ASSDA member Stoddart has also manufactured stainless steel street furniture for Casuarina Beach on the Tweed Coast in northern NSW including beach-themed showers in 316 stainless. These are designed to be vandal and weather resistant and feature automatic water cut-off to prevent wastage.

Image on left: Casuarina Beach 316 stainless surfboard shower. Design by Hutton-Harris. Fabrication by Stoddart.

This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 20, February 2002.

Lissel Pilcher