Arts & Entertainment

Tokyo turns its public toilets into art

Tokyo, Aug 19 (efe-epa).- Transparent public toilets, illuminated like colored lanterns and with other daring architectural designs have begun to proliferate through the streets and parks of Tokyo, as part of a local initiative to renovate them.

Japan’s public toilets are well known for their cleanliness and technological sophistication, but now the Shibuya district of Tokyo has wanted to go further and give some of the oldest facilities in the area a facelift.

A total of 17 public toilets in Shibuya are being redesigned through the initiative, called “The Tokyo Toilet,” and in which 16 renowned architects and artists from Japan and other countries have participated.

Since the beginning of August, five of these toilets have been opened to the public, while the rest of the bathrooms will be available for use throughout this year and during 2021, as reported on its website by the Shibuya city council.

Among the new public toilets, the ones that have attracted the most attention are the two sets located next to the well-known Yoyogi Park, designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, winner of the Pritzker Prize in 2014 and known for his constructions with sustainable materials.

These are transparent rooms in which you can see the toilets or sinks from the outside and in the event that no one is using them. The moment you enter them and close the door, their windows turn opaque.

This curious design, together with the latest technology, allows users to “check from the outside if the bathrooms are occupied and if they are clean,” two issues that constitute “the main concerns for those who visit a public toilet in a park,” Ban said on the explanatory page about the project.

Another one of the new public restrooms, created by the Japanese designer Nao Tamura, stands out for the bright red used on its façade and for its triangular structure separated into three different toilets (for women, men and “multipurpose”).

“I wanted to create three different spaces to redefine the way in which a public bathroom establishes personal space,” explains this New York-based creator, who adds that her goal was to help create “a society that respects the LGTBQ + community” and “offers them a space.”

Although the specifications of each of the new toilets are different, all of them have been designed to accommodate wheelchair users, and some also include specific equipment for babies, children, the elderly or users with a colostomy. EFE-EPA

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