Architecture is going through a period of crisis and introspection, as unemployment soars and wages stagnate. One reason is that architects design a surprisingly small proportion of the buildings built in North America; they don't do most of the houses and they don't do public works like sewage treatment plants. They probably don't do a lot of public washrooms, which are usually utilitarian and boring.
In other countries it is very different; they take architecture and design far more seriously. For example, we have shown quite a few stunning Norwegian public washrooms, designed by talented young architects. The latest is the Roadside Reststop Akkarvikodden by Manthey Kula Architects. The architects are quoted in Dezeen:
The project is situated in Lofoten, along one of the National Tourist Routes in Norway. There are eighteen such routes in Norway, all chosen for their spectacular and characteristic landscape. The facilities for the tourists that drive along these roads; such as rest stops, viewing platforms and links to local points of interest are carried out by architects and landscape architects with the purpose of offering an experience of both nature and design.
The experience of the place, mountains and sea and the ever-present coastal climate is very intense. The restrooms were conceived to present a pause from the impressions of the surrounding nature, offering an experience of different sensuous qualities.
A critic might have a few complaints about this one. They have to mount glass and steel to keep people from getting stained by the CORTEN steel, which is self-weathering, but does bleed rust. It is going to be cold inside. But at least they are willing to experiment, to create " an experience of both nature and design."
More images at Dezeen.