When we think of public restrooms, we rarely think beautiful architectural creations that we seek out to visit. Architects around the world are challenging this status quo, and creating public restrooms that are artworks in themselves.
The History of Public Restrooms
Public toilets were part of the sanitation system of ancient Rome. These latrines housed long benches with holes accommodating multiple simultaneous users, with no division between individuals or groups. Using the facilities was considered a social activity. By the Middle Ages public toilets became uncommon, with only few attested in Frankfurt in 1348, in London in 1383, and in Basel in 1455. A public toilet was built in Ottoman Sarajevo in 1530 just outside a mosque’s exterior courtyard wall which is still operating today. Sociologist Dara Blumenthal notes changing bodily habits, attitudes, and practices regarding hygiene starting in the 16th century, which eventually led to a resurgence of public toilets. While it had been perfectly acceptable to relieve oneself anywhere, civility increasingly required the removal of waste product from contact with others.
The first modern flush toilet had been invented in 1596, but it did not gain popularity until the Victorian era. When hygiene became a heightened concern, rapid advancements in toilet technology ensued. In the 19th century, large cities in Europe started installing modern flushing public toilets. George Jennings, the sanitary engineer, introduced public toilets, which he called “monkey closets”, to the Crystal Palace for The Great Exhibition of 1851. Public toilets were also known as “retiring rooms.” They included separate amenities for men and women, and were the first flush toilet facilities to introduce sex-separation to the activity. The next year, London’s first public toilet facility was opened.
Underground public toilets were introduced in the United Kingdom in the Victorian era, in built-up urban areas where no space was available to provide them above ground. The facilities were accessible by stairs, and lit by glass brick on the pavement. Local health boards often built underground public toilets to a high standard, although provisions were higher for men than women. Most have been closed as they did not have disabled access, and were more prone to vandalism and sexual encounters, especially in the absence of an attendant. A few remain in London, but others have been converted into alternative uses such as cafes, bars and even dwellings.
In the early days of the colony of Hong Kong, people would go to the toilet in sewers, barrels or in alleys. Once Hong Kong opened up for trade (1856-1880), the British Hong Kong government determined that the appalling hygiene situation in Hong Kong was becoming critical. Thus, the government set up public toilets (squat toilets) for people in 1867. But these toilets needed to cleaned and emptied manually every day and were not popular. In 1894, plague broke out in Hong Kong and 2,500 people died, especially public toilet cleaners. The government decided to act, setting up underground toilet facilities to improve this situation, though these toilets also had to be cleaned and emptied manually. Early in 1940, the colonial government built the first public flush toilet. In the United States, concerns over public health and sanitation spurred the sanitarian movement during the late 1800s. Reforms to standardize plumbing codes and household plumbing were advocated for; the intersection of advancements in technology and desire for cleanliness and disease-free spaces spurred the development of public toilets.
Increasingly, public toilets are accessible to people with disabilities. Depending on the culture, there may be varying degrees of separation between males and females and different levels of privacy. Typically, the entire room, or a stall or cubicle containing a toilet, is lockable. Urinals, if present in a male toilet, are typically mounted on a wall with or without a divider between them. Local authorities or commercial businesses may provide public toilet facilities. Some are unattended while others are staffed by an attendant. In many cultures, it is customary to tip the attendant, especially if they provide a specific service, such as might be the case at upscale nightclubs or restaurants.
The 20 Most Beautifully Designed Bathrooms Around the World
1. Transparent Garden Toilet, Chiberu Prefecture, Japan
The communal bathroom is notably one of the smallest ‘public’ spaces, despite being both confined and private.japanese architect sou fujimoto took on the challenge of designing a toilet that, while still being closed, offered an openness in the context of its railway station-adjacent site in ichihara-city, chiba. The public lavatory is set within a lush 200 square meter garden of trees and flowers. Taking the picturesque location into consideration, sou fujimoto conceived two units — one for unisex use and people with disabilities, and the other for women only. the project merges the notions of public and private, opened and closed, nature and built architecture, and smallness and largeness.
The result is a lavatory inside a glass box that has been placed in the middle of a 200 square meter garden planted with trees and flowers. this provides occupants a serene view while using the facilities. to combat the issue of seclusion, a 2 meter tall wooden log roll fence has been placed around the perimeter. a small pathway has been cleared away among the lush foliage, to reach the outhouse. this multi-layering and divergence of internal and external boundaries converge into one another while maintaining a certain ambiguity that suggests a primitive form of architecture.
2. The Golden Public Toilet, London
This golden public toilet in Wembley, London aims to evoke the days when lavatories were “civic buildings that aimed to inspire confidence and pride in a place”. Located near the Wembley Stadium in Greater London, the Golden Public Toilet was designed in 2013 by the Gort Scott architecture and urban design practice. The uniquely geometric building sits within a landscaped pedestrian area at a busy street corner. Inside there are four urinals, an accessible WC, and a concealed tank behind the mirror to collect rainwater for flushing the toilets. With a perforated diamond pattern on its metal facade the Wembley WC Pavilion sits in a newly landscaped and pedestrianised area and is intended to be “a singular and figurative building”.
The structure has a roof height of 16 feet with a concrete base. The exterior wall is made with golden aluminum sheeting with diamond pattern perforations in the top half that provide light and ventilation but ensures complete privacy. In the evening, the brightly lit interiors create a surprisingly glamorous effect guaranteeing it to be found easily by the passers-by who need to it. The project comes at a time when public toilet provision is declining. “The aim was, after all, for a special building that harks back to the days when public toilet buildings were types of civic buildings that aimed to inspire confidence and pride in a place,” architect Jay Gort said.It was commissioned by Brent Council to develop the public convenience for a busy street in Wembley in northwest London. It consists of four urinals, a separate WC, a caretakers store and landscaped surroundings.
3. Minturn Mining Toilet
The Minturn Mining Toilet in the small town of Minturn, Colorado, is a stunning combination of art and architecture in the beautiful natural surroundings of Eagle Town Park. Built in 2015, the restrooms’ design reflects the mining history of Minturn. The fabricated shape of the men’s and women’s toilets mimics an adit (the entrance to an underground mine) in the Rocky Mountains. Made out of 320 wooden pieces and fabricated using 3D printing technology, the toilets with their copper colored walls, are a great example of functional art. In 2015, the Minturn Mining Toilet won America’s Best Restroom Award.
To create a piece of “functional art,” the local planning commission, town council, carpenters, public works department, concrete workers, steel artists, and plumbers collaborated to create what the company calls an “impressive ‘potty’ for the town to celebrate.” And why not? Public restrooms are a necessary evil, so there is nothing wrong with making them vehicles for civic pride, as well designed as anything else in the built world. It changes moods, places and people,” said Janet Hawkinson, director of design and construction for the public restroom project. “It would be the best to win the contest and show the country what can be accomplished when everyone works together to create something truly memorable, as we did in small town Minturn!” The bathrooms have become a hallmark project of Hawkinson’s short tenure as town planner. Hawkinson pulled together LaN Live Architecture Network out of Boulder and LGM 3D Printing and Modeling Services in Minturn to create the bathrooms using state-of-the-art 3-D printing.
4. Lady Bird Lake Toilet
The Lady Bird Lake Trail Restroom in Austin, Texas was the first public toilet to be established in 30 years at the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, that meanders along the Colorado River. Designed by Miro Rivera Architects in 2007, the public toilets are an impressive blend of sculpture and function. The exterior walls of 49 different height panels are made of weathered corten steel that has a natural patina. The panels are embedded in the ground following the natural curve of the trail and ends in a spiral shape that encloses a unisex, accessible toilet.
The Trail Restroom is the first new public toilet built in 30 years on the Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail, a public park that follows the banks of the Colorado River in the south of the city. Austin-based Miro River Architects wanted the structure to sit comfortably in the parkland. This led the firm to choose Corten – a weathering steel with a natural patina – for the exterior walls. It is a material that is often selected in landscape settings. “The Trail Restroom was conceived as a sculpture in a park, a dynamic object along the active trails,” explained the firm, which is led by architects Juan Miró and Miguel Rivera.Other details include orange lettering and symbols, which signal the building’s use as a toilet. The project was backed by the Town Lake Trail Foundation, a non-profit community organisation set up to preserve the park. A tribute to the foundation and all of the funding donors is etched into surface of one of the panels.
5. Kumutoto toilets — Wellington, New Zealand
The public toilets located on Queens Wharf in the Kumutoto precinct of Wellington, NZ, are certainly eye-catching. Designed by Studio Pacific Architecture in 2011, the toilets have a unique, sculptural look that’s straight out of SpongeBob SquarePants, hence its nickname: “lobster loos”. As well as taking into account practical considerations such as security, hygiene and vandalism, the brief was to create a structure with a sculptural form, something iconic, highly visible and unusual that was also well integrated into the visual and historical context ofthe surrounding precinct.
Red-colored steel shells are fitted over the series of concentric concrete rings that form the two separate toilets, each ending in a cantilevered tail with a louvered window that provides ventilation. Each structure has a genderless accessible toilet needed for the pedestrians strolling along the waterfront area. To be seen in the round, the design comprises two elongated, irregularly curved forms, instantly recognisable from all key pedestrian approaches and terminating a sequence of spaces and elements along the laneway. These organic forms, eye-catching and instantly memorable, are suggestive of crustaceans or sea creatures, as if the structure was a kind of fossilised husk that had been discovered and inhabited. Recalling the waterfront’s shipping past, they cling to the surface of the precinct like barnacles to the underside of a boat. Each form contains one accessible public toilet, with one of the two also including cleaning facilities. The irrobust concrete construction is appropriate to the surrounding maritime environment. A metal rainscreen, painted the brick red of the neighbouring sheds, ties them into the heritage context and enhances their visibility. While they contrast with the linear architecture of the surrounding buildings, making them visually distinct, the curves of the new structure also echo some of the ornate detailing on the nearby sheds. Cantilevered ‘tails’ provide natural ventilation.
6. Bukkekjerka Rest Stop
Along the Scenic Route of Andøya in Northern Norway is the Bukkekjerka Rest Stop, designed by Morfeus Arkitekter in 2018. The design reflects the dramatic landscape by way of the forms and materials used and together they meld with the rugged terrain. Folded concrete slabs make up the restroom building which has one-way mirrors for users to enjoy the surrounding landscape. The building is part of a larger creation which includes a bench, paths, a footbridge and parking and service amenities.
From certain angles you wouldn’t even know Bukkekjerka toilets were there if they weren’t signposted. The mirror walls that reflect against the raw, precipitous rocks surrounding them, belies their existence. The sweeping, concrete slabs at the front of the building are also inspired by the jagged environs. The mirrors are rather interestingly only one way, which means whilst the outside serves to disguise the building, the inside offers a panoramic view out over the coastline that surrounds. The architects, MORFEUS, faced many challenges when designing their project. Both the often harsh and windy conditions and the fact the site is very remote made completing the project difficult.
7. Uredd Rest Area
The Uredd Rest Area at Ureddplassen along the National Scenic Route Helgelandskysten was designed by HZA in 2018. The rest area is known for its magnificent views of islands, fjords, and northern lights and the wave-shaped toilet building was part of a redesign project for the site of a WWII memorial monument.
Where better to end than the world’s most beautiful toilet? Okay, so the title may be entirely unofficial, but Ureddplassen has been given this accolade by journalists from London to Los Angeles and Stockholm to Sydney. There’s probably not many who would disagree either. Ureddplassen is also a World War 2 memorial site and is named after the submarine, ‘Uredd’ (meaning unafraid/fearless), which hit a mine here and sank. The architects, Haugen/Zohar have also built clean, minimalist benches alongside the iconic building, which face out towards the rugged mountains of Gildeskål municipality with an aim to create a place beautiful enough to have a picnic. If you ask us, they have certainly succeeded.
8. Selvika – Norwegian Scenic Route Havøysund
Reiulf Ramstad Architects had a very clear objective in mind when designing their architectural wonder near Selvika beach on Scenic Route Havøysund. The unusual shape of the path to the toilet, with its sweeping hairpin curves (not out of place on a racetrack) are designed to make those who walk the path look out in all directions over the landscape and savour all of what is around them. The path snakes back and forth, leading the subject’s eyeline over land, coast and sea. The idea is totally justified too – there’s lots to see in the area, from Neolithic settlements, to Sami culture and local heritage sites.
The primary functional concern was universal accessibility. Instead of opting for a dual solution with staircase and ramp, the architects came up with the notion of making the ramp the common entryway and developing it into the integral character of the project. Because of the site’s slope, the ramp needed to be very long, which also serves to create the reductive motion. The winding river of the path prolongs the approach and in so doing opens up new perspectives and experiences for the visitor. Located in the extreme north of Norway, in a landscape almost lunar in its barren and inhospitable beauty, the facility should ideally be completely self-sustainable in terms of power input and waste output. The general notion was to create a human detail amidst the vastness of the landscape that is as timeless as the landscape itself and that brings attention to the relationship between the duration of experiences and the hugeness of the spatial circumstance.
9. The Tokyo Toilet Project
Toilets are a symbol of Japan’s world-renowned hospitality culture. The Tokyo Toilet Project was an initiative by The Nippon Foundation to create and improve upon 17 public restroom facilities in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. Sixteen architects and designers, including Pritzker Prize winners, have developed toilets that have become must-visit locations. A house-shaped toilet; a toilet inspired by early Japanese architecture; a cedar-clad facility; a red triangular block based on the Japanese craft of Origata; a facility with frosted glass that shines at night; and the latest to open, a hemispherical, voice-activated toilet — they each has an individual style.
The three Pritzker winners’ contributions are in keeping with their fame. Tadao Ando’s design is a minimalist, elegant circular structure. Fumihiko Maki’s design of four pavilions connected by a single, thin, curved roof is known as the “Squid Toilet”, placed as it is in the “Octopus Park”. But the toilet design that has gone viral is done by Shigeru Ban whose transparent glass wall public toilets are simply extraordinary. When vacant, the toilet’s walls are clear. Once locked the glass frosts over, turning opaque and bathing the park in colorful light. Built in the city’s Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and the Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park, the pair of restrooms feature tinted-glass walls to enable those approaching to easily check whether they are in use or not.
This see-through quality was also selected to reassure users that the facilities are clean without them having to enter the toilet block first to check. For privacy, the glass walls become opaque once the occupant has entered and locked the door. The new buildings replace two dated public toilets in a pair of small parks near the large Yoyogi Park in Shibuya. Each facility comprises three separate cubicles – a male, female and accessible toilet – which are divided by mirrored walls.
10. Old Town Public toilet – Gdańsk, Poland
The city of Gdańsk commissioned the Schleifer & Milczanowski Architekci team to design public toilets in preparation for Gdańsk hosting the EURO 2012. They created the first public toilet within the historic center of the city balancing the modern infrastructure with the architectural heritage of the place. The accessible toilet is enclosed within a prefabricated cylindrical form that bulges out at the bottom imitating a raindrop. The exterior is fitted with vertical, striated steel ribs that also function as a bike rack. They have a rusted patina and extend upwards to resemble tenement rooftops. The roof is transparent, negating the need for artificial lights.
The Schleifer & Milczanowski Architekci team was asked to prepare several conceptual designs of a prefabricated public convenience unit and to develop a feasibility study for the project. In the future, the project deliverables were supposed to serve as the basis for developing a technical design of a reproducible Gdańsk-specific public convenience. The aim was to create a prefabricated construction that requires minimum earthworks. The public toilet was to be semiautomatic, for use all year round and easy to operate. In architectural terms, they were required to do something seemingly impossible – to create an exceptional building that would suit not only the historical surroundings but also modern city districts. The building should thus suit everywhere. More images and architects’ description after the break.
In 2009, Gdańsk became one of the EURO 2012 host cities. Gdańsk – Downtown is an exceptionally difficult place for investments. The architect is required to respect the conservator’s conditions and proprietary rights; to be able to weave through a chaotically structured technical infrastructure; and, most of all, to balance and respect the archaeological and historical heritage. The level of difficulty was raised by the requirements of the employer – investGda, a city-owned company acting on behalf of the City of Gdańsk.
Thanks to that the projection of the facility resembles a drop of water. This suggests an immediate association with widely understood environmental protection, renewable energy as well as the concept of sustainable design. A transparent glass roof allows appropriate further illumination of the interior at daytime and thanks to energy gains – support of the heating system. They were concerned that the facility should be built using recyclable materials. That is why they chose steel and glass as basic materials, and suggested composites with ecology certificates for trimming the interior. The base of the toilet is a steel frame construction. It is supported on a slab foundation. The whole is surrounded with panels of patinated sheet metal in rusty color and suggests an association with raw ship hulls in neighboring shipyards. Moreover, the shade of patina sparkling in the sun looks like gold of the north – amber. However, that color formed background for the ribbing of acid resistant steel surrounding the body. The ribs are polished and a slight deformation of their shape makes it possible to park bicycle wheels between them. The idea of a multifunctional piece of city furniture became reality. The polished side of the ribs reflects the immediate surroundings, thereby drawing on the context of the neighbouring vicinity in full reflections. Yet the reflected world is not accurate.The slight deformations, bends make the reflected fragments a coloristic and vivid reference rather than a photorealistic repetition. Thereby the facility partly disappears, while the reflections of greenery blur the edges making the whole seem to be transparent and melt against the historical development.
11. Museum of Islamic Art Park public toilet — Doha, Qatar
Although this structure (designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect IM Pei) looks capable of blasting off into space and attaining warp speed within seconds, it actually has a slightly more prosaic purpose in life – as a public convenience in the park outside the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. The Museum of Islamic Art Park is a 70-acre park adjoining the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha, Qatar. The museum is a masterpiece by the legendary I. M. Pei, architect of the Louvre pyramid. The MIA Park, a public space designed on an artificial extension on the Doha waterfront, was completed in 2012 and has kiosks serving as a cafe, a restaurant, and public restrooms. All the micro buildings were designed by PPA architects and Esteva developed the project in a Design , build and installation concept including the interior design by Roser Esteva for the end user Chef Alain Ducasse. The project included all the massive use toilets in the park.
The park forms the north part of the existing corniche. A grand lawn of sloped geometrical planes with two valleys includes a series of tensile structures within the hollows that complement the geometry of the hills. The structures function as open gathering places covering kiosks and program elements such as a café, restaurant and restrooms. The Park is terminated opposite the Museum with Richard Serra’s “7” sculpture, almost 80 feet high. The kiosks including the public toilets are placed under a series of triangular tensile structures that complement the flow of the surrounding hillocks. The exteriors of the restroom kiosks are decorated with flower motifs.
12. The Light Box Restroom — Thane, India
The Light Box Restroom is a concept from RC Architects, the studio of Rohan Chavan whose unique approach towards public sanitation has brought forth modern designs rooted in tradition. The first of a series of public toilets built in several cities, The Light Box, created in 2016 is placed on the side of a busy highway in the Mumbai metropolitan area. Created exclusively for women, the restrooms function as a safe haven and a socializing area. The toilet block with its hot pink flooring is built around an existing tree that provides shade and aids in filtering the natural light. The complex of three toilets and a nursing room has a central garden used as a resting spot and provides gallery space for art.
“In a warm climate like India people have a very different relationship to built form. One needs but minimal protection, such as a chhatri (an overhead canopy), during the day. In the early morning and at night, the best place to be is outdoors, under the sky.” – Charles Correa. ‘Restroom’ is not just a polished word for toilet at Agasti, a social enterprise working in urban sanitation in Mumbai. Here a Restroom is a public toilet that is unique in terms of both form and function. Beyond the obvious toilet blocks, the Restrooms aim to provide women an exclusive social space, something that is a typical of urban landscape in India. The design of the restroom has been conceptualized around a tree for two reasons. One to express the idea of integrating nature and context in the built form and using its characteristics to protect from climate. Secondly the shade of the tree protects the garden below from the sun allowing filtered light, and then it only needs a transparent cover to protect from rain. This intervention helped to maintain the light quality, as exactly it was when the site was empty. This was a crucial factor from a designer’s point of view. As a result of this intervention during the day the natural light lits up the box filtering through the trees and at night the box lights the surroundings.
The Restroom for women measure 10’ x 30’ is built around an existing tree. It has four blocks at two ends. At one end there are two toilets with a common washbasin and at the other end there is a nursing room and a toilet for handicapped and senior citizens. The center of the restroom is a garden measuring 15’ x 10’ that is used for various activities like a place to rest, a free gallery to display art for amateur artists, a place for lectures and awareness campaigns, celebrating festivals, seasonal activities and events. The central garden is a metaphor to spaces where people can sit and relax under a tree in shade and socialize.
The Restroom with toilet blocks is fitted with a bio digester to reduce use of fresh water and improved waste management. It also includes a nursing room and has amenities like sanitary pads vending machine and incinerator, CCTV cameras, Mobile charging points and a panic alarm system in place. “For us, providing a safe environment for women was as important as providing hygienic toilets. They have created space for an ATM machine and are looking to collaborate with banks that can provide this facility along with a security guard to make the restrooms more secured.” Says Sahej Mantri, founder Agasti. The roof of the Restroom is made up of polycarbonate sheets which allow natural sunlight to come in. Natural lighting reduces the production of harmful bacteria and organisms and is recognized as a natural disinfectant. The flooring for the restroom has been conceived in polyurethane. It is not only an economical option but the industrial usage of the material makes it a good fit for a public toilet. The seamless nature of the floor eases mopping and sweeping and eliminate any dirt saturation that is common in tiled flooring. The walls are either made of aluminium composite panels or of stainless steel sheets. High durability, water resistance and ease of cleaning make it fit for public toilets. While the ease of changing single panels help keep the maintenance economical.
13. Hundertwasser Public Toilets, New Zealand
One of the few toilet blocks seen as an international work of art and a tourist attraction in its own right, the project was completed in 1999 and named after its architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Located in the main street of the town of Kawakawa on New Zealand’s North Island, Hundertwasser created his version of a temple with curvy columns, shardlike mosaics, and stained glass windows. The eco-smart building incorporates a living tree, a grass roof, and reclaimed bricks. It is the only project designed by Hundertwasser in the Southern Hemisphere and the artist’s last project completed within his lifetime.
The decorative toilet block is the only project designed by Hundertwasser in the Southern Hemisphere and the last project completed within the artist’s lifetime. The style is typical Hundertwasser, with wavy lines, irregular ceramic tiles, integrated small sculptures, coloured glass and a live tree incorporated into the architecture. Recycled materials, including the community’s spent glass bottles and bricks from a former Bank of New Zealand branch, were used throughout. Hundertwasser requested that any vegetation removed for construction should be replanted on the building’s green roof. Functionally, it does not differ from other ‘normal’ public toilets. There are separate men’s and women’s areas, but both sides are sometimes viewed by the more curious visitor after giving suitable advance warning. The Hundertwasser Toilets are considered the main attraction of Kawakawa and the most photographed toilet of New Zealand. The bus-loads of tourists who view the toilets far outnumber the individuals who visit simply to use the facility
14. The Shimmering Uster Public Toilets, Switzerland
In the middle of a concrete-filled city street in Uster, Switzerland sits a brilliant green and yellow box, with a complex facade of 295 folded aluminium strips. The depth of the folding and the slightly different colours of each strip generate a shimmering facade that changes depending on sun angle and the observers’ perspective. It’s a dramatic exterior which belies the simple but functional restroom within. So if you’ve had several glasses of Feldschlösschen, this is where to head. Each strip is lasercut and handfolded. The strips are clipped and bolted onto 18 lasercut aluminum sheets that are mounted to the facade of the prefab module “City”.
This public toilet, which has been developed for the city of Uster in 2011, is a prototype for a new typology of urban infrastructure which will be installed, in different variations, at several places on the city territory over the next few years. The parametric design of its façade, consisting of folded, vertically arranged colored aluminum strips, can adapt to changing building sizes and shapes as well as, through its color scheme, to the surrounding context. The depth of the folded structure and the varying reflection angle of the light on its structure, in combination with the slightly different colors of the single strips, generate a shimmering effect that changes depending on the sun as well as the observers’ position.
15. Chung Yo Department Store, Taiwan
Fifteen fascinating bathrooms, scattered across the three buildings, can be found at Chung Yo Department Store in Taichung City, Taiwan. Some of the restrooms have elaborate themes and designs including a Coca-Cola room, a Wizard of Oz room, and even a Finding Nemo bathroom complete with live fish. But the bathroom that really gets people talking is a men’s room that doubles up as a bar, with refrigerators stocked with Heineken for those who’d like to take a leak and a swig of beer at the same time.
This mall spared no expense when designing its bathrooms, which are as trendy and stylish as the luxury stores it hosts. We guarantee you’ve never taken a mall mirror selfie as good as one in these bathrooms.
16. Longwood Gardens, Pennsylvania
Longwood Gardens, a horticultural space in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, is a beautiful place for a stroll but it’s an even better place to use the restroom. Its facilities, which won the 2014 Cintas America’s Best Restroom award, offer 17 commodious chambers built into an enormous 4,200-square-foot living green wall. The eco-friendly facility even features its own docents, in case you get lost. Using the loo here is quite an extraordinary experience, which is why these toilets have become a must-see destination for the garden’s guests.
In 1906, industrialist Pierre du Pont (1870-1954) purchased a small farm near Kennett Square, PA, to save a collection of historic trees from being sold for lumber. Today, Longwood Gardens is one of the world’s great horticultural displays, encompassing 1,100 acres of dazzling gardens, woodlands, meadows, fountains, 10,010-pipe Aeolian organ and grand conservatory. As the most visited public garden in America, Longwood Gardens is renowned for its grand horticulture displays. Now, the distinctive restrooms have become a national icon too. Along with the “green wall” outside the restrooms, visitors find etched translucent glass inside that provides natural light thereby reducing electricity use. As the 2014 winner, Longwood Gardens also receives a $2,500 credit to spend on Cintas services like restroom cleaning and supplies or wet mops for their restroom floors. All three top vote getters win a complimentary Deep Clean of their restroom (valued up to $500).
17. ‘Don’t Miss a Sec’ | Various Locations
This large mirrored box isn’t just a good place to check if something is in your teeth — it’s also a restroom, where those inside taking a break can watch gazers outside admiring their own reflections in the one-way glass. Designed by artist Monica Bonvicini and called “Don’t Miss a Sec,” the cube can be more awkward for those inside than out. It’s difficult to fathom that people staring from the other side can’t see in. The eye-catching loo was first installed outside London’s Tate Britain museum in 2004, and the project has since been transported to various locations around the globe, including Australia’s Bondi Beach, by the Unilever Foundation and UNICEF to raise awareness around the issue that millions of people lack access to toilets and proper sanitation.
18. Public lavatories, Matakana, New Zealand
Locals in Matakana waited seven years and spent a pretty penny (NZ$400,000) to come face-to-face with their pouting public toilets, which provoked plaudits and protestation. Matakana lad Steffan de Haan’s design is highly symbolic, from the facade to the ship-shape cubicles, a nod to the local boat-building industry.
When the idea of public toilets was mooted in 2002, rather than a one-size-fits-all style of convenience there was a call for an artistic statement like the colourful Hundertwasser toilets in Kawakawa – a tourist drawcard. A competition for the final design saw 25 entries received, 12 from commercial architects and designers. The winner was Matakana lad Steffan de Haan, who was in his first year at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University. Elements of his design are drawn from local history – the arched rooms resembling a boat hull to reflect the importance boat building has had to the area.
But there was strong opposition to the toilets, originally proposed in the Matakana Wharf Reserve, which lead to lengthy delays and considerably more expense. A new site was already occupied by a statue of King George, and subject to roading and power alterations and construction issues while tied up with Rodney District Council plans for the area, council project manager Peter Bilton says. Those included having to wait for construction of a roundabout at the end of Matakana Valley Rd, as this would effect positioning of the toilets and also underground power cables. Getting resource consent at the new site proved another issue when it was found to be straddling different zones within the reserve.
Trish Allen of Matakana, who has been a driving force behind the project, says she is inspired by the idea of usable artwork. She is “very proud” of the toilets. Since the view is also much better than from the original site, “perhaps we should thank the original detractors”, she says.
19. Mr Toilet House, Suwon, South Korea
Suwon, in South Korea, boasts a theme park totally devoted to toilets. The eccentric attraction revolves around a commode-shaped museum, former home of Sim Jae-duck – aka ‘Mr Toilet’ – one-time mayor of Suwon and first president of the World Toilet Association, which strives to improve sanitation in developing countries.
Sim Jae-Duck, the on time mayor of the city of Suwon, was born in a toilet at his grandparents’ house, which may explain his life-long obsession with healthy latrines. As mayor of Suwon in the 1990s and early 2000s, he led an effort to clean and beautify the city’s public toilets. He later founded the World Toilet Association, dedicated to doing the same for the world. Appropriately, he became known as “Mr. Toilet” by reputation. After he died, the house was donated to the city and turned into a toilet museum. The house itself is the largest toilet sculpture in Korea, and has two floors of exhibitions about how important toilets are to the health of a society. Toilet-themed art is exhibited inside the museum and around on the grounds, much of which, including a giant golden pile of poop, make for great photo ops. Take in the oversized ‘squatty potty’, the sometimes-pained statues all trying to take care of business, and a model of how the pigs on Jeju-do get to be black.
20. A Walk in the Woods, Kengo Kuma, Tokyo
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma unveiled a toilet in Tokyo named A Walk in the Woods, which was designed to “to dispel the conventional image of public toilets”. The cedar-clad toilet is Kuma’s contribution to the Nippon Foundation’s Tokyo Toilet project, which has seen public toilets designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winners Tadao Ando, Shigeru Ban and Fumihiko Maki in the city’s Shibuya area.
Built to replace an existing brick toilet block within Nabeshima Shoto Park, the toilet was designed to integrate with the park’s trees and lush greenery. “There were many potential sites for this project, but I chose Nabeshima Shoto Park because it has the lushest greenery and I thought I would be able to dispel the conventional image of public toilets,” explained Kuma.