The stretch of the Yamuna River which runs from the Wazirabad Barriage to the Okhla Barriage through New Delhi is the most contaminated part of the river. This pollution, which constitutes this as a dead river, is almost entirely contributed by human feces, industrial effluents, and irrigation chemicals. This is a critical issue due to the growing population in New Delhi and a lack of clean water to support them.

RTF Educational Awards 2020
First Award | Mixed-Use

Project Name: Approaching Sanitation
Student Name: Darcy Engle
Design Team: Professors Maria Gonzalez Aranguren and Pankaj Vir Gupta
University Name: University of Virginia
Area: 8m2 – 400m2
Year: Fall 2018
Location: New Delhi

Approaching Sanitation | Darcy - Sheet1

A goal of the studio was not simply to gain an understanding of how to clean the water, but how to prevent pollutants from entering the water, to begin with. The pollutant of focus for the project was human waste. A primary reason there is so much fecal matter in the Yamuna River is due to a lack of well-constructed and reliable infrastructure between the starting point of the toilets and the endpoint of sewage treatment plants. However, a secondary reason is that although the government has the initiative to install 75 million toilets by 2019, there is still a large portion of the population defecating in the open.

Approaching Sanitation | Darcy - Sheet2

The last recorded data on open defecation states that 700,000 people or four percent of the population of Delhi still defecates in the open. This number may seem low, but there is reason to believe that not all those who have access to restrooms are actually using public facilities. This is due to vandalism, lack of cleaning, broken plumbing, safety concerns, hours of operation, and the distance they are from where the users call home.

Approaching Sanitation | Darcy - Sheet4

In response to these issues, the research conducted throughout the semester began by identifying locations within Delhi where there is the greatest need for bathroom infrastructure. In looking at these locations, scales and types of bathrooms were designed for the unique urban scenarios which appeared in these locations. For example, some bathrooms were designed to be affixed to existing rooftops in dense urban villages, whereas others were designed for underused parks and vacant lots. In studying conditions of current public bathroom typologies and the process or culture of taking the daily trip to a public bathroom, specificity in the design of the proposed interventions emerged. The new catalog of typologies layers critical programs together, offers flexibility to how the spaces can be used, has a porosity which allows for light and ventilation to flow into space and a gradation of the public to private spaces for men and women.

Approaching Sanitation | Darcy - Sheet5

The overarching goal of the designed interventions is to provide new variations of semi-public to public bathrooms which solve issues of the current public bathrooms in Delhi and bring them closer to those people who need them most.


Over more than half a decade Rethinking the Future has been a leading organization committed to providing an international platform to not only recognize and acknowledge design talents from all over the world but also to celebrate and share the knowledge that created through a plethora of awards, events and academic dialogues in the field of architecture and design.