Toilet business is everybody’s business, a serious one at that. This is why many are very careful and selective about where they do their transactions.
Public toilets, however, are notorious for being unhygienic and foul no matter the part of the world you live in. Even though the phobia for public restrooms may vary from country to country, it’s a general opinion that public loos and cleanliness do not go hand in hand.
Even Japan, which had been ranked number one among countries with the cleanest public restrooms in the world, still has pockets of unsavoury cases public toilet experience.
Hygiene concern is not the only reason people find it uneasy to use public toilets – security is also a factor. There have been cases of robbery and other crimes that were perpetrated inside public restrooms.
This is why Nippon Foundation, a non-profit organization in Tokyo, Japan’s capital, launched “The Tokyo Toilet Project”, tasking 16 prominent architects to renovate 17 public toilets located in the public parks of Shibuya, one of the busiest commercial areas of the city.Japan’s new public toilets turn opaque when in use.
The architects were given the mission to apply innovative design to make public restrooms accessible and appealing to everyone regardless of gender, age or disability.
According to the organization, the goal was to make people “feel comfortable using these public toilets and to foster a spirit of hospitality for the next person.”
The design by one of the architects has become an internet sensation since it was cited this month in Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park and the Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park in Tokyo.
The designer, Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Shigeru Ban, delivered two units of toilets – each has three cubicles, which are surrounded by transparent tinted glass in cyan, lime green, blue, yellow, pink or purple.
There are two reasons for the see-through design – for an intended user to see that it is clean and that no one is inside.
“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”, Nippon Foundation said.
The design is made of a new smartglass technology that turns the walls opaque (not transparent) when the door is locked.
“At night, they light up the parks like a beautiful lantern,” the Foundation says.
Other architects working on the project are also planning to deliver their designs in the coming weeks. By spring 2021, the organization said all the toilet projects would have been open for use.
When completed, public restrooms in Tokyo would perhaps inspire an overhaul of public toilets in other parts of the world.
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