Design and creation of station for menstrual supplies

At the initiative of the civil society Intymyta we are preparing a proposal in the form of a so-called period station. Its goal is to make menstrual needs available to people who, for various reasons, cannot afford them or struggle to access them. The production and implementation of several period stations is part of a project called Dignified menstruation.

Project aims to combat period poverty. Period poverty is a problem describing the financial inaccessibility of hygiene needs. Almost one in 10 people in Europe face period poverty. It does not only affect those who live on the streets, for example, but also people from low-income families, people who are materially dependent on other people or lonely elderly people.

The result station

The basic concept of a period station is to produce a structure with a significant design/form that communicates its purpose. In order to allow any interested organization to assemble the station on their own and without professional help, the material for the production is sheet steel and other materials available in regular building stores. The filling of the period station takes place from the top and the users can gradually take out the packages with the necessities at the bottom of the structure.

The design will be tested by weather conditions, humidity and endurance at the Pohoda 2023 festival, where we will verify the accuracy of the design solutions. Once the station functionality has been verified, the first designs will be placed in 15 selected locations in Slovakia with a higher concentration of people who have difficulty accessing the needs.

The production and placement of the period stations will be followed by the preparation of a freely available online production manual for any willing person or organization. The manual will include a list of materials and tools needed and a detailed assembly procedure with dimensions. We hope that this little bit will contribute to the journey towards an effective solution to period poverty.

Pre-research: combining sociology and architecture

The site selection and design process was preceded by mapping and field research.

In early 2023, we conducted 2 anonymous interviews with individuals who work with people facing period poverty on a daily basis.

Based on the analysis of interviews and field observations, we were looking for a shape that would be suitable for placement in a safe but outdoor space. Somewhere where those in need of menstrual supplies would have 24/7 access. Therefore, we were looking for a moisture protective structure with rounded edges that could withstand bouts of rain, wind or sun. We were also looking for a material that would be affordable to purchase and install in remote areas outside of the city. The final design of the period station was therefore ultimately based on the simplicity of working with sheet metal that bends while creating a recognizable shape, allowing for effective identification and visibility of the object in the public space. The approximate dimensions of the simple module are 12 x 90 cm, which is based on the standard length of sheet metal available in construction shops and also on the size of one pack of standard sanitary pads. The size and capacity of the period station naturally increases when the modules are connected to each other.

In the search for visuality, we also drew on our own introspection and chose a form reminiscent of a tampon or the play of the bends of the female body. For all the simplicity of the design, the station can take the form of an elegant object. With precision manufacturing and quality materials, it is at the same time manageable to produce it DIY. The recognizable design allows the object to be identified at different quality of production.

Team and support

The project is created in collaboration with the civic association Intymyta that approached us for this cooperation.