In Tokyo, head for this mushroom-like public washroom when nature calls


The mushroom-like public conveniences in Tokyo designed by architect Ito. Photo: AFP

Japanese Pritzker Prize-winning architect Toyo Ito has designed and built a cluster of mushroom-like public washrooms in the Shibuya district of Tokyo.

These facilities are part of a series of 17 projects forming part of the Nippon Foundation's ambitious plan to clean up the image of public conveniences.

People might think of Japan as being one of the cleanest countries in the world. However, public toilet use in the country is limited.

This is largely because the stereotypes that they are dark, dirty, smelly and scary places, prevail among Japanese people, who are clearly unfamiliar with certain facilities in the capital.

To dispel these misconceptions, the Nippon Foundation decided to renovate 17 public toilets located in the Shibuya district of Tokyo. The facilities were designed or renovated by 16 leading designers in order to make them accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, age or disability.

As part of the project, Ito created public conveniences within three mushroom-shaped blocks. They replaced an old block located at the bottom of a staircase leading to the Yoyogi Hachimangu Shrine.

The Japanese architect divided his facility into three cylindrical blocks topped with domed roofs, creating a shape reminiscent of the mushrooms that grow in the nearby forest. This installation is intended to be a calm and welcoming place, challenging prejudices about public washrooms.

"I hope that the Yoyogi-Hachiman Public Toilet installed this time will be a toilet that gives women a sense of security that can be used even at night," explains the designer.

A map of all public toilets featured in the project is available on the Tokyo Toilet website. – AFP Relaxnews

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