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This 3D printed ‘Big Arse Toilet’ can power a small community

The 3D printed toilet concept was unveiled by SPARK Architects on World Toilet Day

With all the excitement of Formnext, we missed an important date this week: November 19th, otherwise known as World Toilet Day. No, World Toilet Day isn’t akin to World Pancake Day, it is a real event organized by the United Nations as a call to action to overcome the world’s sanitation crisis. To mark the observance day, SPARK Architects, a Singapore, Shanghai and London-based architecture firm introduced its Big Arse Toilet concept, an easily transportable 3D printed toilet.

The Big Arse Toilet conceived of by SPARK is not only a portable and accessible toilet solution which could improve India’s sanitation and hygiene problem, it can also convert human waste into biogas which can then—using a micro CHP unit—convert the biogas into electricity.

The architecture firm writes: “The proposal aims to highlight the urgency of eliminating open defecation as well as the positive benefit of using a natural waste product to create “free” energy for remote communities.”

big arse toilet

The toilet module itself is 3D printed from a material made up of bamboo fibre and gum resin and it is designed to fit into 3D printed “reinterpretation of a traditional biogas dome” that is buried underground. The biogas stored in the dome fuels the CHP unit combined with heat and power to generate electricity.

The toilet structure comprises of a monocoque shell that integrates the toilet bowl and basin as a homogenous surface. The exterior of the toilet shell can be finished with a variety of materials, so is adaptable to various environments and locations.

Crucially, the 3D printed toilet and biogas dome are designed for easy deployment; drones can fly the complete sanitation stations to remote locations, where they can be easily installed. The biogas dome is designed to function for about a decade and is reportedly capable of generating enough electricity to power a small community of eight dwellings.

big arse toilet

“SPARK’s self-funded The Big Arse Toilet has been developed to highlight the fact that not enough is being done to provide solutions for vulnerable individuals that are worst affected by lack of access to the level sanitation most take for granted,” commented Stephen Pimbley, a partner at SPARK.

He continued: “Our proposal could help prevent disease and assist in community development by lifting social barriers faced particularly women in rural communities, often meaning serious consequences for their health, perpetuating the disproportionate levels of disease associated with poverty and open defecation.”


Tess Boissonneault

Tess Boissonneault moved from her home of Montreal, Canada to the Netherlands in 2014 to pursue a master’s degree in Media Studies at the University of Amsterdam. It was during her time in Amsterdam that she became acquainted with 3D printing technology and began writing for a local additive manufacturing news platform. Now based in France, Tess has over two and a half years experience writing, editing and publishing additive manufacturing content with a particular interest in women working within the industry. She is an avid follower of the ever-evolving AM industry.

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