Monday, September 7, 2009

Urban Urinals

Well in defense of the scatological, peeing in urban areas (or other specific displays of a variety of bodily functions) is something of a way of life (often in the doorway of our downtown office). Portland has become another in a line of cities experimenting with public toilets in the inner city for use by tourists, downtown denizens, and the large number of seasonal homeless.


:: image via Trend Updates

From Trend Updates: "A archetype of the toilet estimated to cost from (US) $140,000 — (US) $360,000 has been built under the (US) $500,000 development program budget, but [Commissioner Randy] Leonard feels hat the planned mass production model would cut down the cost to a mere (US) $25,000, that is in case he lures the other cities into getting them."


:: image via Trend Updates

"The stainless steel solar loo would prove economical on maintenance and is functional in all climate with solar powered lighting, heaters and ventilation. In my opinion, the other cities should try the product as it is eco-friendly and would save a lot of money both in the production and usage departments."

While full scale toilets are an option, these often lead to potential crime issues (or opportunities for policing) and in the case of Seattle, a total and expensive removal after a rash of issues. Perhaps a more simple and decentralized type of facility is necessary.

A couple of examples. The first, via Treehugger, offers a sculptural option of the 'Pee Tree' by Joa Herrenknecht, which: "...has the abstracted form and the dimensions of a tree. It's bright ceramic white is a strong signal and is to be seen from far - making it accessible when in urgent need. The trunk offers a perfect place for messaging, e.g. the common "I was here" or "done that" statements, which we all know from Club-toilets."


:: image via Treehugger

A more small-scale example (via the Design Blog) is the Axixa by Mexican designer Miguel Melgarejo, who: "...has come up with a public urinal concept... that will help in maintaining the cleanliness in the streets. Featuring the shape that a leak leaves on a wall, the public ceramic urinal generates a permanent mark in public streets or places where people can urinate and participate in a manifestation in which the disposal itself becomes part of the public life."




:: images via The Design Blog

Sometimes, when you gotta go, you gotta go. It's good to have options.

8 comments:

  1. Here is an email I sent recently on the Loos...Randy

    "All-

    I appreciate individual emails but I would encourage the neighborhood association to listen to those in the neighborhood who believe there exists a need for a public restroom and balance that with concerns raised by other residents, such as the issues Ms. McMahon has raised here.

    I never "selected" Jamison Square for a Loo. It is only being considered because neighborhood residents requested it from me. I understand now that they may not have been speaking for the entire neighborhood.

    In terms of my own perspective on public restrooms, to the extent that is helpful, here it is;

    I believe that the United States is unique among developed countries, especially in Europe, in the types of restrooms we design and install in this country. Up until now, US public restrooms have reflected the United States historic puritan, conservative roots. They are closed, private, locked and conveniently designed for bad people that want to commit illegal activities in private.

    The Portland Loo, on the other hand, is a uniquely designed public restroom, much as European restrooms are designed. It's design features include input from many, including Commander Mike Reese of Central Precinct at the Portland Police Bureau, to reduce the incidence of crime normally associated with public restrooms. The Loo does not provide the privacy normally associated with Americans desires to be "sealed up tight from view" when they have to pee or relieve themselves in any other fashion.

    There are louvers at the top and bottoms of the Loo that allow the police to view inside the restroom...but the louvers are at an angle so it is only possible to see about calf high. The washing station is on the outside to discourage people from staying inside the Loo to wash themselves or their clothes. It is intentionally sparse on the inside but aesthetically pleasing on the outside. It is powered by a solar panel on its roof.

    We have received a copyright on the Loo and have a patent pending on its unique design and features.

    The police bureau has told me that the Loo on NW 5th and Glisan -the center of the homeless community in Portland- has been a success.

    People have to pee. That includes children, residents of the neighborhood and visitors. If you have to pee, sometimes walking a few blocks is not an option. And most often if the location is a business they will not let non-customers use their facilities.

    If a person is walking in your neighborhood at night and there is no public restroom, they are known now to relieve themselves in a number of public areas seen and smelled by the public in the morning. In old town near the Loo on NW 5th and Glisan, that phenomena had decreased dramatically.

    I would urge the neighborhood to have a discussion, but please let it be based realistically on real human needs and requirements...not just from ones perspective who may be in eye sight of the Loo. You live in a very wonderful but population dense neighborhood. With that comes the necessity of recognizing that human beings, especially when there are a lot of people in a very small area, have basic human needs that should be addressed by the community and city.

    It is my opinion that the Loo makes sense in Jamison Square. I also am open to where it is installed. I am sorry, but I disagree with some who think it should be locked at night. People need to pee 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It was designed intentionally to always be open and never closed to the public.

    In the broader discussion I am encouraging the community to have, you may decide that you do not want a Loo installed. That is perfectly understandable and acceptable. We have more locations that need Loos in Portland than we do Loos.

    Thank you. I hope my perspective helps the discussion.

    Commissioner Randy Leonard"

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  2. and the option for women is ...?

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  3. Interestingly the city of Victoria, BC just installed a urinal that seems to be a good combination of private/open.

    Apparently I'm a bit of a prude because my reaction to the urinals that have no screening whatsoever is that I wouldn't want to be walking along and studdenly be faced with witnessing a guy urinating. That would kind of ruin my day.

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  4. Well said Amy! Men really think that their penis is the almighty and every wish has to be satisfied immediately! Please…

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  5. An interesting stream (to pardon the pun) of comments have come from this post. I agree - what about the female half of the world? The public toilets, which are the point of the post, are a gender neutral solution that at least start to address this bias. But, something as innocuous as a camping trip can easily illicit this same sort of gender disparate conversation. While I once was on a first date where my very outdoorsy girlfriend found an dense growth of urban shrubbery - the solution I fear, beyond the full scale loos, probably need to come from the unique knowledge of the specific female experience.

    While I agree that men do often think with their penises - the anonymous comment seems to go a bit beyond merely pissing in public to something more personal?

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  6. A really interesting blog.This is quite an invention. I don't like it, especialy the Pee Tree. That guy from the picture pees in front of everyone. This should mean that such a Pee Tree would be located in public areas like parks or near buildings?

    And the yellow thing... is small, and from the picture shown you don't see anything just a man peeing, which is good.... but can it be used for lets say a larger quantity of pee?Or is just for one person?

    One thing I don't understand is that both this "inventions" are man only. Isn't it a discrimination being made?

    ReplyDelete
  7. A really interesting blog.This is quite an invention. I don't like it, especialy the Pee Tree. That guy from the picture pees in front of everyone. This should mean that such a Pee Tree would be located in public areas like parks or near buildings? And the yellow thing... is small, and from the picture shown you don't see anything just a man peeing, which is good.... but can it be used for lets say a larger quantity of pee?Or is just for one person? One thing I don't understand is that both this "inventions" are man only. Isn't it a discrimination being made?

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  8. I like what Trend Updates had been achieved with theirs urban urinal. I would use something like that.

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