This public restroom may give new meaning to the term “looky-loo.”
Ichihara City in Japan commissioned what it billed as “the biggest public toilet in the world” as a tourist attraction in advance of the 52-day Ichihara City Art Festival, which begins on March 21, 2014. A replacement for pit toilets at the Itabu train station, it’s a real, functioning public restroom — and has been for the past year or so. But when it opened last spring, much of the facility’s final look had to be left to the imagination, because plantings had not yet taken hold.
Now they have (perhaps helped along by especially fertile soil?).
This commode is for women only. Its 2,000 square feet of landscape is circled by a fence 2 meters high, or about 6.6 feet. When Yahoo Homes first learned of the project on the designboom website, we suspected it was just an artistic concept, not an existing facility. But the architects assure us, “It is a public facility and anyone may access without any fee for the use at any time.”
A unisex handicapped-accessible toilet nearby offers privacy in the form of a much more traditional opaque cube.
Renowned architect Sou Fujimoto took the commission, which reportedly had a budget of 10 million yen, or about $100,000 at today’s exchange rates. His firm declined to comment on the budget, but said in an artistic statement sent to Yahoo Homes that we translated from the Japanese: “In a beautiful environment such as this, the question is, How do you not only confine but also open up the space? …
“In this walled-off garden, we placed a glass box toilet. The toilet’s domain is this natural garden, which is closed off from the eyes of the public. It simultaneously maintains and melts away the dichotomy of public and private, the feeling of openness and being protected, inside and outside, natural and constructed, big and small.”
But does anyone really use it? For the answer to that, we’ll have to take the word of a city official who told the Japan Times:
“The rolls of toilet paper we installed have definitely been steadily decreasing.”