Tokyo toilet Project by Pritzker Prize Winners

by Ofentse Sefolo
Tokyo toilet Project by Pritzker Prize Winners

In Japan toilets have become synonymous with comfort and pampered relaxation, often having the facilities to wash and dry, or even powder. While being known as one of the cleanest countries in the world, venturing out into communal spaces and using public facilities are often limited due to the belief that they are dark, dirty and scary.

Changing perceptions
Trying to dispel these myths, The Nippon Foundation set out to renovate 17 public toilets located in Shibuya, Tokyo, with the help of 16 Pritzker Prize winners and the cooperation of the Shibuya City government.

Launching the Tokyo Toilet Project, The Nippon Foundation plans on building new toilets at 17 locations across Shibuya as a way of showcasing the realisation of a society embracing diversity. Three of the toilets were made available for use by the general public from beginning August 2020.

Designed by: Masamichi Katayama The toilet in Ebisu Park. Photo by Satoshi Nagare

Accessible design
Conceptualised by 16 leading creators, these public toilets will use advanced design, enabling them to be accessible by all, regardless of gender, age or disability, displaying the possibilities of an inclusive society. Not only constructing, but also arranging for the continued maintenance of these public toilets, will foster a spirit of hospitality in ensuring that they are comfortable and convenient for each successive user.

Multiple facilities
Toilets are available in three locations for use from August: Ebisu Park (creator – Masamichi Katayama), Yoyogi Fukamachi Mini Park (Shigeru Ban) and Haru-no-Ogawa Community Park (Shigeru Ban). They were joined by openings later in Ebisu East Park (Fumihiko Maki) and a location near Ebisu Station (Nao Tamura), another opening on 31 August in Nishihara Itchome Park (Takenosuke Sakakura) and one on 7 September in Jingu-Dori Park (Tadao Ando), with the remainder scheduled for completion by April 2021.

Collaborative effort
Daiwa House Industry Co. Ltd. will be manufacturing the toilets, while the equipment and layout will be handled by Toto Ltd. The upkeep and maintenance of the toilets will be carried out under a three-party agreement concluded by The Nippon Foundation, the Shibuya City government and the Shibuya City Tourism Association.

The stigma of using public facilities is soon set to become a thing of the past, thanks to the combined efforts of the Japanese industry and award-winning architects.

Acknowledgement and thanks are given to The Nippon Foundation for the information used in this article.

The glass of the outer walls becomes opaque when the lock is closed. Photo by Satoshi Nagare

The concept:
There are two concerns with public toilets, especially those located in parks. The first is whether it is clean inside, and the second is that no one is secretly waiting inside. Using new technology, the outer walls were made with glass that becomes opaque when the lock is closed, so that a person can check inside before entering. At night, they light up the parks like a beautiful lantern.


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