Reference designs: Toilets

Access and download the guide, and find information about the latest update.

Level of compliance Main audience Other


  • Boards
  • Proprietors
  • Project Managers
  • Architects and Designers
  • Principals and Tumuaki
  • Building Contractors

The Toilet Reference Design Guide for New Zealand schools will help design teams and schools to design new toilets. While the main intended users of this document are property professionals, boards and other people who make decisions about school property may also find it useful.

Download the guide

Version 2.0 of the Toilet Design: Requirements and Reference Design [PDF, 2.5 MB] incorporates feedback received since the release of version 1.0 in August 2016, and considers the recent coroner’s report.

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

About the Toilet Reference Design Guide

Use the Toilet Reference Design Guide when planning to build a new, or upgrade an existing, toilet area. Project managers or design teams can use these plans, or adapt them for a specific school site.

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

The Toilet Reference Design Guide has three main parts:

  1. The Ministry’s recommendations for items such as location, configuration, layout, and ventilation.
  2. Guidance for the finishes, fittings and fixtures.
  3. Drawings showing example layouts.

 Toilet reference design.


The Toilet Reference Design Guide makes several design recommendations that depart from more traditional toilet design.

Some of the key design features

  • Toilets are evenly distributed around the school and located close to learning areas.
  • Toilets areas are configured to provide high levels of passive surveillance, but without compromising cubicle privacy. Passive surveillance can reduce the opportunity for bullying and other antisocial behaviour.
  • Toilet lobby areas have dual access for student safety, and where possible with access from both indoor learning and outdoor activity areas.
  • Toilets are self-contained and include hand basin and drying facilities. Full height walls and doors are used for more visual and acoustic privacy.
  • Schools can decide whether each toilet will be designated for unisex or single gender use.

Version 2.0 updates

  • Toilet door hardware is robust with a minimum amount of moving parts.
  • Mechanical ventilation is required for all self-contained toilets.
  • If windows are incorporated into the self-contained toilet cubicle, used a fixed pane type.
  • Where existing toilets have operable window sashes, consider retrofitting appropriate security stays that restrict the clear opening.

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