London - A British student has found the equivalent of the Holy Grail when it comes to hygienic public conveniences for women, and on Thursday received an award from a prestigious London college.

Cajsa Flensburg, 25, has designed a loo with handlebars that allows women to hover in hygiene and comfort over the offending, germ-ridden bowl. She was awarded the Royal College of Art's annual design award plus a $2 800 (about R24 400) travel bursary.

Designs for a female urinal have been around for 70 years, but none of them has caught on. Now Flensburg predicts her unique design - codenamed Ona - will revolutionise women's public loo-going.

Her new toilet, which comes with supporting handlebars, will allow women to "hover in comfort". It is compact and aims to cut the traditional queues of women standing cross-legged in busy public places as rest rooms could be fitted with at least twice the number of cubicles.

"It's a well-known fact among women that nearly all of us hover when using public toilets because we don't want to sit down. We basically do not use the toilet in the way it was designed to be used. My design combines the best of both worlds with the handles also taking the strain off leg muscles," Flensburg said.

The white porcelain bowl is also environmentally friendly, using three litres of water per flush instead of the usual seven.

Flensburg plans to spend her prize by flying to the United States to hold talks with lavatory manufacturer Toto, which has expressed interest in putting her design into production. - Sapa-DPA