Is this the world’s most beautiful public toilet?

Sou fujimoto toilet
© Iwan Baan

This TreeHugger is a little potty-obsessed, so when I saw a design website with The world’s best public toilets for 2016, of course I had to look, only to find that most of them were far older than 2016 and many had been on TreeHugger years ago. But their Number One for doing Number Two had never been on this site, even though it is a few years old too.

from above© Iwan Baan via Designboom

It is quite lovely, sitting in a glass box in the middle of an enclosure of logs. Designed by Sou Fujimoto and located at a train station in Ichihara, Japan, it is described in a 2013 Designboom post:

The result is a glass box lavatory that has been placed in the middle of a 200 square meters garden that is planted with trees and flowers, providing occupants a serene view while using the facilities. To combat the issue of seclusion, a 2 meter wooden log roll fence has been placed around the perimeter that is entered through a locked door. a small pathway cleared away among the lush foliage, to reach the outhouse. This multi-layering and divergence of internal and external boundaries converge into one another while maintaining a certain ambiguity and suggesting a primitive form of architecture.

Sou fujimoto toilet tall view© Iwan Baan via Designboom

In some ways it is a bit silly, what looks like a bog standard toilet and sink, a standard bathroom put in a box which is put in a park. Given the amount of land it occupies, it might have been nice if it had taken advantage to have a natural wetland waste management system or a composting toilet that fertilized a garden. The beauty is somewhat superficial.

entry© Iwan Baan via Designboom

The toilet is for women only and the door of the fence locks, so that she has privacy as she walks the garden path and uses the facility. Given that it is at a train station where there are probably short bursts of high demand, such a contemplative design makes little sense. But why quibble? it is a beautiful toilet.

Is this the world’s most beautiful public toilet?
Maybe yes. Maybe no.

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