american tobacco trail

The American Tobacco Trail was conceived as a linear park offering biking, running and walking through wooded areas on an unused rail line. Toilet facilities were needed for the park, but bringing utilities to the sites would have been excessively expensive. Each toilet was designed to be completely off the grid with no electrical power, no sewer and no water. A concrete vault system was devised to provide six to eight month storage with a sewage tanker utilized to pump the vaults when needed. Proper ventilation is important with this type of facility and since electricity is not available for fans, natural ventilation was explored. The most important part of this was the use of two large pipes painted black. These pipes were directly connected to the vaults and the vaults extended under the foundation walls with openings up through the waterless closets. The vent pipes were utilized as a design element on the fronts of each toilet and faced to have a southern exposure. Once the sun rises in the morning, the pipes become warmer from the sun exposure creating an upward flow of air since heat naturally rises. This pulls air from the waterless closets thereby removing bad smells from the toilet enclosures. Since waterless closets are not available stainless steel units were designed, fabricated and installed. A double band of insect screen units were also provided high in each toilet to help ventilate the spaces. Lighting was also a critical element. Public toilets are generally spaces that should be well lit. A band of translucent glass block windows was incorporated in the rear wall of the toilets along with a thin skylight that extends the full length of each toilet. Skylights let in much more light than windows and in this case clear glass was utilized so that when you walk into the space you see that it is well lit and your eye is attracted to the skylight and you see the sky above which is a nice surprise. This project was completed while Dan Huffman, AIA was a principal at Cherry Huffman Architects (now RATIO Architects).