It’s weird to think about, but public restrooms have been in the news an awful lots these past several years. People feel the need to debate who can use a certain bathroom in regards to the rights of trans people, Europeans are into unisex bathrooms, and honestly, this American just wishes we could keep ours cleaner.
Japan, though, was looking for innovative designs from local architects who were willing to think outside the box when designing a new set of public toilets. A non-profit, Nippon Foundation, launched “The Tokyo Toilet Project” with the aim of renovating 17 public toilets around the public parks of Shibuya.
The 16 architects involved would get the chance to pitch, design, and implement their newfangled toilet ideas in one of the busiest commercial areas of Tokyo.
They were asked to make public bathrooms accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age, or disability, with a stated goal that “people will feel comfortable using these public toilets and to foster a spirit of hospitality for the next person.”
Though several of the designs have been completed, the one everyone is talking about comes from Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, who installed transparent restrooms in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park, and in the Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park.
They have three cubicles, each surrounded by transparent glass tinted cyan, lime green, blue, yellow, pink, or purple.
The reason he decided to make them see-through is to make it easy for people to see inside before entering, a feature that addresses two major citizen concerns.
“There are two concerns with public toilets, especially those located in parks. The first is whether it is clean inside, and the second is that no one is secretly waiting inside.”
The toilets do engage smartglass technology that turns the walls opaque once the door is locked, and the Nippon Foundation says that “at night, they light up the parks like a beautiful lantern.”
The rest of the architects are slated to open their restrooms over the next several months, but I’m sure now they’re all wondering how they’re going to top these strangely beautiful toilets.
Yeah. I never thought I would write that phrase, either.