Tokyo’s latest attraction: transparent public toilets

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Tokyo (CNN) – One of Tokyo’s most popular neighborhoods recently added some unusual new attractions – transparent public toilets. Although the toilets seem risky, they are actually part of an innovative project to change people’s perception of public toilets.

Designed by Shigeru Ban Architects, a Pritzker Prize-winning architectural firm, the two new sets of transparent toilets were installed in two parks in Shibuya – Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park.

“There are two things that worry us when entering public toilets, especially those located in a park,” read a statement on the project’s official website, Tokyotoilet.jp. “The first is cleanliness and the second is whether someone is inside. “

The design of Shigeru Ban Architects responds to these two concerns by offering toilets with glass walls which – initially – allow the public to see through from the outside. But once a user enters the restroom and locks the door, the walls become opaque to provide privacy.

“This allows users to check for cleanliness and whether someone is using the toilet from outside,” the statement said. “At night, the installation illuminates the park like a beautiful lantern. “

How does it feel to use one?

During CNN Travel’s visit to Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park this week, a steady stream of visitors came to take photos of the new attraction.

The toilets were impressively clean, a mix of bright white and chrome.

Part of the thrill is that once inside you can’t tell if the glass is frosted or not. The walls between the compartments have mirrors installed, adding to the odd feeling of being on display.

This means that it is extremely important not to forget to secure the door lock, which is located well below the handle.

During our visit, one person presumably forgot to lock it, causing laughter among those outside.

The two park facilities include a women’s toilet, a men’s toilet and a multi-purpose toilet.

More designer toilets to come

These two sets of transparent toilets are part of the all-new Tokyo Toilet Project, a series of reinvented public toilets.

Founded by the Nippon Foundation, a private, non-profit charity focused on social innovation, the Tokyo Toilet Project has partnered with some of the biggest names in architecture and the creative industries, including Tadao Ando and Toyo Ito to create 17 new public toilets. around Shibuya.

The foundation will work with the Shibuya City Government and the Shibuya City Tourism Association to maintain these new toilets.

The Nippon Foundation is teaming up with 16 architects and designers to create 17 new public toilets around Shibuya, Tokyo.

Satoshi Nagare / La Fondation Nippon

“These public toilets are designed by 16 leading designers and will use advanced design to make them accessible to everyone, regardless of gender, age or disability, to demonstrate the possibilities of an inclusive society. “

So far, five facilities have been opened to the public, including the two transparent toilets.

The other three installations include a “Modern Kawaya (River Hut)” by FRAME award-winning Masamichi Katayama and his interior design studio Wonderwall Inc. The design includes 15 randomly placed concrete walls, inspired by the traditional design of a riverside toilet hut.

Fumihiko Maki, another Pritzker Prize winning architect, created a ‘Squid Toilet’ which is inside a children’s play area known as ‘Octopus Park’.

Twelve new public toilets will be available between August 31 and summer 2021.

All facilities will be built by Daiwa House Group, the largest home builder in Japan, with toilet equipment and planning advice provided by renowned Japanese toilet manufacturer TOTO Ltd.

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