1Dessert Public Toilet
Ice cream with whipped cream, berries, and syrup are all inside a structure that looks like a giant cake.
Believe it or not, this is where you can pee if you are in Japan. The Oita Toilennale 2015 is an art festival devoted to public toilets. Artists who contribute use nature’s call as their central theme. “Melting Dream,” an ice cream-like toilet by Minako Nishiyama, Mika Kasahara, and Yuma Haruna, is among some of the festival’s major art projects.
The Fukushima nuclear accident four years ago inspired the project. The artists are commenting that beneath such a sweet looking structure, Japan is crumbling.
Visitors at Jack Astor’s in Toronto relieve (or terrify) themselves at a shark-shaped urinal, which comes equipped with two rows of pointy teeth.
Even though we know they’re not real, the choppers on this urinal dredge up disturbing images of sitting in a shark’s mouth, like that unfortunate guy in Jaws 4. There is even a sign that warns, “Be Careful Where You Dangle Your Bait.” Sound advice there.
3Matakana's Sculptured Public Bathrooms
Every town has public toilets but rarely are they the source of so much civic pride as this entry in our list. The sculptured Matakana toilet blocks took seven years to complete and opened to the public in 2009.
The city started a competition for the building’s design and received 25 entries, 12 of which were from commercial architects and designers. The winner was a Matakana local, Steffan de Haan, who was in his first year at the Elam School of Fine Arts, Auckland University.
The half-faces at the entrance to the toilets are molded concrete. The rest of the structure is “shotcrete” over wooden molds. The facades of each room are recycled kauri with copper edging and the sculptures cost a total of $400,000.
4America's Best Bathroom (in 2013)
If you’ve got to go, this is the place to go in America.
In 2013, the Varsity Theater in Dinkytown was selected as the nation’s best bathroom. The Minneapolis restroom beat out nine others from around the country in polling conducted by Cintas, a major supplier of products for public restroom facilities.
“The restroom is visually stunning, from the cool masonry to the bright plants to the distinctive hand wash area,” said John Engel, senior marketing manager at Cintas. “Once inside, you completely forget you’re in a restroom. In fact, heading to the men’s stalls feels like (walking into) an old European castle.”
5World's Largest Public Urinal
The Chinese city of Chongqing holds a weird kind of world record—it has the largest public bathroom. The porcelain palace with an Egyptian facade has more than 1000 toilets in a four-story, 3000 square meter (32000 square feet) building.
“We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV,” explains Lu Xiaoqing, an official from the tourist area where the bathroom is located. “After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy.”
Some urinals are shaped like open crocodile mouths while others are in the form of the Virgin Mary. There are even sinks shaped like female behinds.
6Pop-Up Public Toilet
This a public pop-up toilet. It emerges at 10 pm and disappears at 3 am.
The toilets, invented and sold by the Dutch company UriLift for around £45,000 a pop, are usually installed in areas near drinking establishments. These areas are lively on the weekend but don’t have a particular need for public toilets the rest of the time.
Of course, urinals aren’t much use to female revelers, though apparently a version for both genders is in the planning stages (let’s hope this one has doors).
7Easehouse—An outhouse with a view
After deciding to finally do away with at least one or two of Rotterdam’s nasty portable toilets, Stichting Singeldingen commissioned LAGADO Architects to design a temporary, demountable alternative.
Behold the Easehouse—a pop-up toilet with a view.
Installed in a public playground in Heemraadssingel Park, the commode blends in with the natural environment.
The Easehouse features two toilets of different sizes—one for children and one for adults. In order to ensure that the structure’s sharp geometry doesn’t contrast too deeply with its soft arboreal surroundings, the team at LAGADO installed glossy green betonplex side panels that reflect the shadows of leaves and trees as well as sunshine. The fold down roof provides a “projection plane” for the trees overhead. Best of all, the whole thing can be dismounted and installed elsewhere.
8Perry Lakes Park Restrooms
Perry Lakes Park lies along the shores of the Cahaba River on the outskirts of Marion, Alabama. After being closed for over two decades, the park was reopened to the public in 2001. To provide a new element, Rural Studio designed and constructed a pavilion. The following year, Rural Studio was asked to design and build bathrooms for the park.
The student design-build team designed three unique toilet “experiences.” The “tall toilet” features a light-weight aluminum truss, visible from the outside of the structure. Inside, cedar boards direct the eye to an opening at the top of the tower, showing a view of the surrounding tree canopy. The “long toilet” is enclosed by two cantilevering walls that capture and frame a singular tree. The “mound toilet” is surrounded by an earthen septic system that services the entire bathroom complex.
Each of the bathrooms is connected by a raised walkway, which begins at the parking area and winds its way through the woods to the pavilion.
9Urine-Controlled Video Game
In 2013, a minor league baseball team in Pennsylvania became the first professional sports franchise to offer urine-controlled video games in its restrooms. Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley IronPigs introduced the “Urinal Gaming System” in its men’s bathrooms—the custom urinals featured a “pee controlled” video screen to entertain fans as they use the facilities.
The system was designed by a British company called Captive Media. In a demo for the urinal, the company shows a snowboarding slalom game in which the character is controlled by where the player pees.
10All Glass Bathroom
When it comes to tourist attractions, weird sells. People have a hard time resisting anything that plays with the boundaries of normal, and this “all-glass” bathroom in the middle of Sulphur Springs, Texas certainly blows past those boundaries.
With see-through glass on three sides, the pair of panic inducing potties was the first of their kind anywhere in the United States. The restrooms were modeled after Italian artist Monica Bonivicini’s 2004 art piece “Don’t Miss A Sec,” which was located outside a museum in Switzerland.
For the small Texas town, the goal of these unique toilets was to balance the need for both form and function. The city opted to create mirrored rooms that would reflect the beauty of the nearby courthouse and surrounding areas. While the designers were at it, they decided to make the mirrors out of one-way glass.
While the curious passersby can peer in and wonder what’s going on inside the structure, it’s the user that’s getting the show. Not only do you have the best seat in the square, but you can do your business with the added entertainment of people popping up to take a peek. Whether that makes you laugh or cry depends on how much you trust the one-way glass technology.