Toilet and changing space design for schools

Access and download the guide. Find information about the latest update. This webpage also includes information about universal bathrooms for schools.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Project managers
  • Architects and designers
  • Principals and tumuaki
  • Building contractors

The toilet and changing space design for schools standard outlines design standards, guidance and reference design layouts for toilets (including accessible toilets and universal bathrooms), changing spaces, staff facilities and associated facilities in school buildings.

Version 3.0 of the toilet and changing space design for schools standard is an update of version 2.0 of the toilet design standards (February 2017) and version 1.0 of the universal school bathroom standards (July 2017). This update merges the 2 previous standards and incorporates feedback received since their releases.

A summary of changes can be found in the document history of the guide.

Design principles for toilets and changing spaces in schools

The toilet and changing space design standard is one of a range of Design Standard documents. Our principal document is Designing Schools in Aotearoa New Zealand (DSNZ). It outlines the design principles for school property projects, some of which include "Equitable for all learners, welcoming and inclusive and flexible".

Designing Schools in Aotearoa New Zealand (DSNZ)

Additionally, one of the four strategic objectives under Te Rautaki Rawa Kura, our School Property Strategy, is to provide equitable outcomes and ensure that learners with the greatest needs are prioritised.

Te Rautaki Rawa Kura

The toilet and changing space design guide has been developed to:

  • maximise dignity and safety for users
  • maximise levels of passive surveillance
  • minimise the opportunities for anti-social behaviour
  • minimise the opportunities for vandalism
  • improve access to toilet facilities for all learners.

Our design standards require all newly built toilets to be self-contained and gender-neutral capable. This is for a number of reasons but primarily because self-contained toilets maximise the flexibility of each facility as they are fit-for-purpose for a broader range of potential users.

Self-contained toilets include a basin, hand drying facilities, full height walls and doors. This combination of design features maximises visual and acoustic privacy, user safety and comfort and minimises the opportunity for bullying or antisocial behaviour.

The number of toilets provided across a school and within each building, needs to meet the requirements of the building code as a minimum.

About the toilet and changing space design standard

This design standard outlines design principles, guidance, minimum mandatory requirements and example reference design layouts for architects, designers and property professionals. Schools and other people who make decisions about school property may also find this document useful.

Use the design standard when planning to build a new, or upgrade an existing, toilet area. The design standard provides examples for the design of individual toilet cubicles that meet Ministry standards and example configurations for groups of toilets. The example configurations should be amended as necessary to ensure high quality outcomes for individual projects.

We strongly recommend you comply with the toilet reference designs for school projects that include new toilets.

The toilet and changing space design for schools standard has 2 main parts:

Part 1: Design standards and guidance

  1. The Ministry’s recommendations for provision, location, distribution and configurations.
  2. Indoor environmental requirements such as lighting, ventilation, heating and acoustics.
  3. Performance requirements for finishes, fitting and fixtures such as materials, door hardware, change tables, basins and taps.

Part 2: Reference designs

  1. Plans for different toilet cubicle types including standard toilets, accessible toilets and universal bathrooms.
  2. General configurations for different groups of toilets.
  3. Configurations that include Universal Bathrooms.
  4. Floor Plans and Internal Elevations.

Application of the design standard

The standards and reference designs in the document are applicable to all schools, including specialist schools. When designing toilets for specialist schools or learning support hubs, consult with the Ministry's local Learning Support team to confirm the provision and ensure the design is fit-for-purpose. 

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