Adah Kwan Boon On (Ms), alumnus, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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7 optical illusions
6 hours ago
Public toilet at upmarket mall has eight urinals, but it is so cramped they can't all be used at once
Cheung Chi-fai and Jennifer Ngo
May 05, 2012
There are plenty of urinals in the men's toilet in the shopping mall of a luxury development in Ho Man Tin - but there's no way they could all be used at the same time.
The eight porcelain fittings in the ground-floor mall of Celestial Heights are so close together that there's simply not enough room.
One expert even said the new toilet is so cramped it could prove "psychologically uncomfortable".
The reason for the tight squeeze is that the size of the U-shaped urinal area is about half that was specified in the building plans.
The urinals also lack the "modesty boards" that, according to the plans, are supposed to separate them.
Plans for the arcade in the joint development by property giants Cheung Kong (SEHK: 0001) and Nam Fung Group call for the urinals to be set in an area measuring 2.1 metres by 2.4 metres - about 5 square metres.
But the area in the finished toilet measures just 2.5 square metres.
Dr Michael Siu Kin-wai, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Toilet Association, said the developer apparently did not care about the feelings of the users of the cramped toilet, which resembled some still found in the railway stations of backward regions.
"The urinals are too close to each other and people using them will be shoulder to shoulder.
"This will make them embarrassed and even psychologically uncomfortable," said Siu, an ergonomics expert at the Polytechnic University school of design.
Vincent Ho Kui-yip, chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors' building surveying division, said the layout was neither reasonable nor practical.
"Having a sufficient number of urinals does not really mean they have fulfilled the legal requirements, since these urinals cannot deliver their intended function," he said.
The laws set out the minimum number of toilet facilities - water closets, urinals and basins -based on the maximum number of people allowed in premises such as malls or cinemas.
Neither Cheung Kong subsidiary Goodwell Property Management, which manages the mall, nor architects LWK & Partners had responded by last night to inquiries filed last week.
The eight urinals at Celestial Heights are arranged with three on each opposite wall and two on the wall at the end.
A mere 16.5cm separates each of the urinals on the sides, but the shortest distance between the two urinals in the right angles at the corners is about 10cm.
The distance between the urinals on opposite walls is just 58cm, meaning men's backs will be touching when they use them. Those at the end cannot be used without blocking access to those on either side.
The layout goes against recommendations laid out in the guide to better public toilet design and maintenance published by the Restroom Association Singapore in 2002. It suggests each urinal should be at least 30cm apart and those at right angles even further apart.
The 92,000 sq ft mall has two public toilets with a total of 15 urinals - three more than required by law for such a mall.
An inspection of the women's toilet found that the size of cubicles is acceptable and their number meets the legal requirement.
Ho, of the surveyors' institute, suggested the number of urinals be reduced to six.
But he believes the developer may be reluctant to do so because it would reduce the flexibility to change the use of nearby shops from, for example, a restaurant which requires a toilet to a boutique which does not.
He said the size of the area might have been reduced by thick walls.
Building laws, Ho said, did not exempt mall toilets from the gross floor space calculations that govern the size and density of a development. For this reason, developers tended to make them as small as possible.
Mar 20, 2012
Despite a global decline in new HIV infections, Hong Kong had a record number last year of 438, more than a 12 per cent increase over the 389 in 2010. In public health terms, that is disappointing rather than alarming. HIV prevalence in the city remains low by international standards at less than 0.1 per cent, compared with the level of 1 per cent at which infection is deemed to be widespread. Nonetheless, health authorities are concerned about the number of new cases among men having sex with men - the highest among all at-risk groups - a trend also found in other parts of Asia. This suggests complacency and the need to refresh and reinforce the safe-sex message.
At the same time, more gay men are presenting themselves for HIV testing, which is a good sign. Centre for Health Protection consultant Dr Wong Ka-hing said this helps explain the higher new-infection number, following declines in the previous two years. In the absence of a vaccine for HIV-Aids, early testing and diagnosis has emerged as the next best thing. Apart from the importance of early diagnosis and anti-retroviral drug therapy in halting the development of Aids and related life-threatening illnesses, early testing is now credited with reining in the spread of the disease by alerting carriers and reducing the amount of virus in body fluids. A recent study by the UN Programme on HIV/Aids indicated that early treatment of HIV can reduce the risk of transmission by 96 per cent.
Internationally the challenge for the health authorities and HIV/Aids activists is to ensure the flow of billions of dollars in increased funding needed to expand access to drugs and for education to combat social factors that inhibit delivery of treatment. If Hong Kong is to stay beneath the world HIV/Aids radar, the authorities must stay on message about the effectiveness of condoms in ensuring safe sex, and the need for high-risk groups including drug users, sex workers and people with multiple sexual partners to have regular check-ups.
Beating leaves music tutor in critical condition and with chance she will lose sight in one eye
Apr 25, 2012
A music teacher suffered serious head injuries and is likely to lose the use of her left eye following an attack in a Tsuen Wan public toilet this week, police said.
The 29-year-old woman, who was bludgeoned over the head and left eye, underwent surgery yesterday. She was in critical condition at Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung last night.
The attack did not appear to be a robbery or rape attempt, police said.
Detectives are looking for a 1.77-metre tall man of normal build, aged between 30 and 40. No one has been arrested and Tsuen Wan district crime squad is investigating.
The woman, who lives nearby with her parents, was heading home after giving a private music lesson when the attacker struck in a park along Tsuen King Circuit at about 9.15pm on Monday.
"The culprit followed the victim into the toilet and attacked her," a police officer said.
"She was hit by a hard object a couple of times. She suffered serious injuries to her head and left eye and lost a lot of blood."
The attacker emerged from the toilet in a rush and ran into a male passer-by, who alerted police.
A police officer said initial investigation showed the woman did not lose any belongings or suffer a sexual assault. "I don't believe it was a random attack," he said, adding it was possible the victim knew the attacker.
He said police were checking the woman's background and talking to her relatives in an effort to establish a motive for the attack.
Her parents reportedly told police that she did not have a boyfriend.
A team of officers combed the area early yesterday with the help of a tracker dog but could not find any weapon. Police said they would check closed-circuit television footage along the man's escape route.
In January police recorded 142 cases of wounding. Figures show reports of wounding fell 5.7 per cent to 1,777 last year from 1,884 in 2010.
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