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Tokyo Unveils Public Toilets With Transparent Walls

Tokyo Unveils Public Toilets With Transparent Walls

Tokyo Unveils Public Toilets With Transparent Walls

Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban has designed two public toilets for the Tokyo Toilet project with transparent glass walls that become opaque when they are occupied. But this time, they may have crossed some border of good taste. A group of artists and architects from Japan has designed a bunch of public toilets…

The unique public toilets are located in Tokyo’s Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and the Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park. The facilities at the Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park were designed with tinted green and blue glass to blend in with the surrounding foliage. Meanwhile the Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park toilets were given orange, pink and purple hues to compliment a nearby playground. The design uses new smartglass technology that turns the walls opaque when the door is locked.

According to the creators’ website, the specifications of each toilet vary, but all are wheelchair-accessible.

That’s great and all, but how about answering one small question. Why would you build a toilet with transparent walls?

In the public mind, Japan is often perceived as a place where weird stuff goes down. The stereotype is not entirely misplaced, what with all the drive-through haunted houses and men-only naked festivals.

But this time, they may have crossed some border of good taste. A group of artists and architects from Japan has designed a bunch of public toilets… Some of them with transparent walls.

The 17 toilets from the The Tokyo Toilet project are situated in different spots across the city’s famous Shibuya entertainment district. Most of them are still under construction, but five – including the two see-through ones – have already started operations.

According to the creators’ website, the specifications of each toilet vary, but all are wheelchair-accessible. How nice.

“Ostomate facilities are available at some locations. All toilets are also equipped with Washlet,” the website said.

That’s great and all, but how about answering one small question. Why would you build a toilet with transparent walls?

Public toilets the way they’re supposed to be. Non-transparent.

Good Intentions:

Alright, let come clean in the name of honesty. The colorful walls are only transparent when the toilets are unused.

Once you enter and lock the door, the walls will become frosted and visibility from the outside is blocked. From the inside, though, you can’t tell the difference.

So how do you know if the walls have turned opaque? You don’t. You just have to lock the door and pray that the system hasn’t malfunctioned.

I’m sorry, but who thought this was a good idea? What on Earth is The Tokyo Toilet project trying to accomplish by having people wonder whether they’re exposing themselves in public?

Well, believe it or not, the team does have decent intentions behind the project. Architect Shigeru Ban, who’s company designed the see-through toilets, told NPR that the idea is to build trust in public lavatories.

Along with the two facilities designed by Ban, “The Tokyo Toilet Project” has also opened three other public restrooms, created by interior designer Masamichi Katayama in Ebisu Park; Pritzker winner Fumihiko Maki in Ebisu East Park; and New York-based furniture designer Nao Tamura near Ebisu Station.

In the coming weeks, restrooms will open from architect Takenosuke Sakakura in Nishihara Itchome Park and Tadao Ando, yet another Pritzker Prize winner, in Jingu-Dori Park. The remainder of the project’s renovations are slated to open in the spring of 2021.

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