THE TOKYO TOILET new public toilets now ready in Shibuya


Japan is renowned for being one of the cleanest countries in the world, and even its public toilets meet higher hygienic standards than similar facilities elsewhere in the world. But the Japanese are reluctant to use public toilets nonetheless, due to the widespread stereotypical image of public toilets as dark, dirty and dangerous. To overcome this obstacle, TOKYO TOILETS project in partnership with the government of the city of Shibuya is renovating 17 public toilets in Shibuya to make them accessible to all, regardless of gender, age or capacity.
The toilets in question are designed by 16 world-renowned architects and designers who use their designs and creativity to address societal issues.
Last year we featured the first five of these little architectural gems located at various locations in Tokyo’s famous Shibuya district, and four more have been added since, including one designed by Kengo Kuma.
The award-winning Japanese architect designed the public restrooms at Shoto Park. Based on his gentle, gentle, human-scale design philosophy, aiming to create architecture that blends into the local environment and culture, Kuma imagined something special for Shibuya. The facility he designed could best be described as a sanitary service village: five structures covered with cedar planks of varying lengths that blend into the greenery of the park around the buildings. The structures vary in their layouts and interiors to meet the needs of all types of users: there is a WC for children and one for people in wheelchairs, each with its own specificities. Constructing these toilets in separate buildings creates a “public toilet village” in the park that is well ventilated and easily accessible without overcrowding, a critical feature in the post-pandemic era, and without being visible to other users in the process. entering. Public toilets are entering the era of diversity, and the era of forests!
Architect Tadao Ando finished his toilet last year. The Pritzker Prize winner did not use any concrete: his toilets are located in a round pavilion covered with vertical sheets providing both privacy and ventilation for the three cabins inside. Located in Jingu-Dori Park, the toilets surrounded by cherry trees are just minutes from Shibuya Station. As Ando explains, he wanted to create a small work of architecture that would go beyond the concept of public toilets to become a real “place” in the urban landscape.
Takenosuke SakakakuraThe poetic project is named ‘andon’ after a type of Japanese lantern and replaces an older structure in Itchome Park in Nishihara. The white volume contains three unisex cabins, each containing large and small toilets and a sink. From the inside, users can see the shape and outline of trees through the frosted glass walls. User privacy is guaranteed, but the park is illuminated at night to create a welcoming public space for visitors. The toilets designed by the streetwear designer NIGO, on the other hand, refer explicitly to the classic American house, in contrast to the urban landscape in which they are located: the toilets are located in a simple and comfortable structure with a high ceiling following the course of the triangular shed roof.
More toilets will be added in 2021, and THE TOKYO TOILET project will be completed in 2022. By then, let’s hope that it will have inspired other cities to do the same, because being able to use public toilets without hesitation is a sign. real advancement!

Christiane Bürklein

Project: Kengo Kuma, Tadao Ando, ​​Takenosuke Sakakakura, NIGO
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Year: 2020, 2021
Images: Satoshi Nagare, provided by The Nippon Foundation, SS Co., Ltd. Hojo Hiroko for Higashi Sanchome
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