Renovation of a basic public facility with aesthetics is often a hard-to-find concept as the beauty is not considered necessary. In a different understanding, Japanese designers just added their touch to public "toilets", where people do not really prefer to spend much time in.
Sixteen designers, seventeen locations
Titled as The Tokyo Toilet Project, The Nippon Foundation is on its way to renovate seventeen public toilets in Shibuya, Tokyo with the help of the Shibuya City government.
The project stemmed from the limitation of public toilet uses due to their inhumane conditions, despite Japan's being one of the cleanest countries in the world, as reported by the foundation. The current toilets open to the public are considered dark, dirty, smelly, and "scary."
The toilets designed by sixteen artists vary in design, unique to their location. But it is no doubt that the most interesting of those designs is probably smart walls that change from transparent to opaque according to whether it's occupied.
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The inspiration behind these transparent/opaque walls is of two concerns. While the first one is explained as the cleanliness issue, the second comes from the presence of anyone inside the cabinet. When the door is locked, the transparent walls go opaque so that people will know that the toilet is occupied.
There is also another version of these cabinets that differ in color. And even though the locations are also different, the designer is the same: Shigeru Ban.
You'll notice the interior design is way more modern than that of a basic, plastic installed cabinet, as well as its exterior.
The cyan, lime green, and blue painted ones are located in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park; however, you may find the warm pastel-like versions in Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park.
At night, you can see colors light up the surroundings. They are like giant fireflies with no intention of hiding.
Historical inspirations here!
Some of the designs have more concrete constructions made up of beige separators. This design, by Masamichi Katayama, is reportedly originated from kawaya, old huts built over rivers in the prehistoric Jomon period.
The beige separators pave the way towards three different toilets: men, women, and unisex, welcoming all.
"The design creates a unique relationship in which users are invited to interact with the facility as if they are playing with a curious piece of playground equipment," explains The Nippon Foundation.
Last but not least, people in wheelchairs can use not only the toilet design above but all of the designs in the project.