It might seem amiss to think that a public toilet could qualify to be featured within our Architecture + Culture section, and yet here one is. With tall, varying-sized pre-rusted steel plates arranged in a spiral to form walls, architect Miro Rivera Architects have created a piece of art as much as a stop-off for your restroom needs. Found in Austin (USA), Lady Bird Lake Hike and Bike Trail is the home of the public toilet, with the park following the scenic banks of the Colorado River; this beautification connection makes the toileting experience even more unique.
Wanting the structure to sit comfortably and contextually in the parkland, Miro Rivera Architects choose Corten – a steel-based material that weathers with a natural patina – for its exterior walls, and via forty-nine different embedded panels in the ground, the spiralling layout encloses a toilet cubicle and has a framed outdoor area for hand washing and drinking.
As Juan Miro and Miguel Rivera of the Architects explain, “The Trail Restroom was conceived as a sculpture in a park, a dynamic object along the active trails…”, with the wall plates “…staggered in plan to control views and to allow for the penetration of light and fresh air.” Of irregular profiles, the wall panels are exciting as they are functional, and via the featuring of orange-weathered lettering and symbols as the installation’s directional signs, the public toilet simply blends in with the landscape without all the ugliness that such a utility-building is so often associated with. A much neater solution, you have to agree, than to have a large shack or expensive facilities that only become justifiable by the inclusion of retail space, and therefore loses all its appeal.
A open-pierced lily pad shaped roof lies above the toilet area and all the plumbing fixtures are top-spec, both to ensure that the building does not require any artificial light or mechanical ventilation, keeping all running costs to a minimum. The Corten steel panels will weather naturally over time, and so in actual fact, as time goes by this art will only get better and better, rather than become more and more unhygienic or abused.
Discover more about this installation at MiroRivera.com.