Japan is one of the world’s cleanest countries. Even the public toilets here have a higher standard of hygiene than in other places. Nonetheless, people try to avoid using them as many are considered dark, dirty and scary. To dispel these misconceptions, the city government in Shibuya – one of Tokyo’s 23 districts – started working with the Nippon Foundation in 2020 to build new public toilets or renovate existing ones. The 17 small structures were designed by 16 renowned architects and creators. They all feature modern, inviting architecture and hygienic, accessible sanitary facilities. This is also an expression of Japan’s world-renowned “hospitality culture” or Omotenashi – in this case, people think about ensuring that the toilet is clean and fresh for the next person to use. As Japan’s leading manufacturer of sanitary ware, TOTO is contributing its expertise to suggest fixtures and layouts in each toilet.
“THE TOKYO TOILET” Project wants visitors to enjoy a friendly, clean public toilet at any time or day or night. TOTO supported the creative minds on the project to explore what would make using a public toilet safe, simple and hygienic. Ensuring maximum accessibility was also important: All people should be able to use public toilets at any time, whatever their gender, age or physical limitations. It’s also important to ensure the highest possible standard of hygiene with the appropriate products and regular cleaning.
Project “WHITE” by Kashiwa Sato
The white toilet cube designed by famed Japanese graphic designer and creative director Kashiwa Sato opened its doors in July 2021. It is located at the busy, bustling west exit of Tokyo’s Ebisu Station. In his design, Sato focused on creating a safe, clean toilet facility that looks bright, delicate and harmonious. Downlights illuminate the white aluminium slats at dusk and in the evening, making the cube look like a floating streetlight. Sato designed the five toilets to be unisex and fully accessible. Rather than choosing the toilet based on gender, each person should decide based on their needs and the corresponding fixtures in place. The stalls feature WASHLET (shower toilets), helpful folding seats and hygienic, sensor- based faucets. Kashiwa Sato also designed the pictograms found on all “THE TOKYO TOILET” Project.
The “Three Mushrooms” by Toyo Ito
The topic of diversity plays an important role in the toilet designed by Pritzker Award winner Toyo Ito – there is a section of the building designed “for everyone” in addition to the conventional men’s and women’s areas. Born in 1941, the world- famous architect designed public toilet at the edge of the city’s Yoyogi Hachimann forest that look like three mushrooms at first glance. This imagery symbolises the over 800-year-old forest. The three buildings create a feeling of openness, helping every guest feel safe. At night, the mushroom cap-like roofs of the buildings reflect the light from the interior, making them look like little lanterns. The exterior walls of the “three mushrooms” were covered with custom self-cleaning mosaic tiles, the colour creating a gradient effect from earthy dark brown at the bottom to a lighter shade at the top. The very spacious toilets are designed to be especially accessible to everyone, even the elderly and small children. Toyo Ito’s project also features WASHLET.
A Walk through the Woods by Kengo Kuma
The green Nabeshima Shoto Park is located just a few minutes’ walk from Shinsen train station, surrounded by a quiet residential community and galleries. The five toilets designed by famed architect Kengo Kuma are found at the edge of the park. All different heights and slightly offset to each other, allowing people to wander
through them as if in a little forest. This image is further enhanced by the rustic pieces of cedar wood that cover the facade. The surprising interior features raw
timber. Like many other toilets in “THE TOKYO TOILET” Project, Kengo Kuma decided to dedicate spaces to different needs – child-friendly, fully accessible, for
elderly people – rather than conventional gender assignments. This is yet another innovative toilet facility that symbolises our age of diversity. This toilet is especially suited for children. It has a special toilet set for small children, including a urinal and washbasin positioned at the right height for them to use comfortably.
”Hi Toilet” – floating sphere featuring voice control by Kazoo Sato
The brilliant white semi-sphere landed at Nanago Dori Park and Seventh Street. The shell structure of the sphere is slightly elevated from the ground, which makes
it look like it is floating in air. Kazoo Sato, an award-winning interdisciplinary creative genius, developed a voice control mechanism for the toilet that allows people to open the door, use WASHLET and the faucet with voice commands. The “Hi Toilet” guests don’t need to touch anything – it’s difficult to imagine how a public toilet could be more hygienic. In the unlikely case that something should break, people can use all of the elements manually. The photocatalytic varnish on the semi-sphere breaks down dirt with the light from the sun, keeping it bright and white. The structure was also so designed to pull in fresh air at the base and circulate it along the dome, ensuring efficient ventilation. The pure white semi- sphere opened in August 2021 and has already become a neighbourhood landmark.
An overview of all toilets – like the ones constructed by Tadao Ando and Shigeru Ban in 2020 – is available here: https://tokyotoilet.jp/en/
All 17 “THE TOKYO TOILET” Projects are scheduled for completion by the end of 2022.
Product related information: TOTO
THE TOKYO TOILET Project information: The Nippon Foundationhttps://tokyotoilet.jp/en/
Düsseldorf, February 2022
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