Prime Cuts: Slash without the splash

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Unbeknown to me being a female, a rather unpleasant phenomenon often occurs in the men’s urinal – splash back. Although many men may not realise it, conventional urinals routinely splash the user, the walls, the floor and potentially other users with urine.

This is due to a simple design flaw: fluid hitting a flat, perpendicular surface will always reflect back as splash. Many solutions to this problem have been proposed however, these generally aim to cure the symptoms (say, by catching the splash) rather than actually removing the fundamental problem. Goodwin Hartshorn have taken a different approach.

The London-based product designers originally approached sanitary-ware company Ideal Standard in 2005 with a new design for eliminating splash from conventional wall-hung urinals. The aim of the innovation, a central vertical ‘fin’ structure, was to ensure the fluid strikes the china tangentially rather than at 90 degrees to the surface. By doing this, surface tension causes the urine to cling to the surface rather than splashing off. Moreover, at such a shallow angle, any slight splashing is reflected away from the user, not back at them.

The innovations were initially prototyped in Goodwin Hartshorn’s east London studio and then integrated into a new urinal design. However, following successful testing and further development, Ideal Standard (Armitage Shanks) decided that it would be better to update its existing conventional urinals (the designs of which had remained unchanged for around 40 years) with the new anti-splash feature.

Goodwin Hartshorn updated the aesthetics and refined the form of the ageing products. They were developed in collaboration with Ideal Standard’s skilled in-house technicians over the next couple of years and were finally launched in February 2010.


A series of full-scale models were made and tested by Goodwin Hartshorn (using water!) to compare splashing levels. The amount of splash was reduced by well over 90%. The amount of splash-reduction was then independently verified by Hull University. Models were made both by hand (in blue-foam that was coated and sprayed to have a finish to match vitreous china) and using CNC-milled model-board.

The urinals are gradually being installed in new buildings and refurbishments. So, thankfully for all you men out there, you should be able to test the splash-reducing capabilities of this new design sometime soon.

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