At night, these transparent toilets light up. Photo: Courtesy of Satoshi Nagare, provided by the Nippon Foundation
Transparent, clean, and fancy are certainly not the adjectives that come to mind when thinking about public toilets.But in Japan, where cleanliness has been long associated with its culture, a series of newly renovated public bathrooms are set to be exactly that. Initially part of Tokyo’s efforts to improve the city’s infrastructure before the 2020 Olympic Games, the Tokyo Toilet Project has been revitalizing public bathrooms in its Shibuya Ward with the help of 16 designers.
Though the coronavirus pandemic postponed the games to 2021, the project has steadily been underway. Last week, it revealed the 9th out of its 17 bathrooms, located in Shibuya’s lush Nabeshima Shoto Park. The bathroom was created by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who designed the new National Stadium, the main venue for the Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games. Opened just a month before the Tokyo Games are set to begin, the toilet aims to emulate the park’s greenery with a “Toilet Village.” The bathroom consists of five huts, all connected by artistically angled cedar boards. The toilet’s design can be enjoyed by walking through the park’s woods.
In addition to encapsulating the forest’s nature vibe through structural design, Kuma also aimed to make using the bathroom a “walk in the park” for everyone. Each of the toilets in the “Toilet Village” is designed to meet a special need, whether it be child care, wheelchair access, or personal grooming. The bathrooms come equipped with specific appliances that make public restrooms barrier-free.
In Haru-no-Ogawa community park and Yoyogi Fukamachi Minipark, the new bathrooms are colorful and transparent.Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the exterior glass turns opaque when the bathroom is locked, making it easier for people to tell when it’s in use. The toilet also lights up at night, which the architect likened to a “beautiful lantern.”
The Tokyo Toilet Project was launched by Nippon Project, a nongovernmental organization, in cooperation with Shibuya’s local government and the Shibuya Tourism Association.All 17 toilets come equipped with washlets and are expected to be ready for public use by March 2022.
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