I’ve inadvertently been talking about projects this week that have distinct relationships with water; one has been exceedingly photogenic and the other… well… it’s working on it. I happen to like it, but wastewater treatment facilities aren’t for everybody. I’d like to write about how water can shape buildings and also feature a project that isn’t typically glamorous: the lowly public restroom.
When you think of the places where you actually interact with a building (handrails, built-in furniture, etc.) one of the places with the most intense interaction is the restroom. It can be such a nice surprise to walk into a well-designed bathroom. If you’ve ever visited the starkly white New Museum and used the restrooms, you may have been surprised by the flamboyantly colored and graphic tile work. But it can also be a sad experience. In Zaha Hadid’s Contemporary Art Center the restrooms seem awkward, and it’s a small detail, but the soap dispensers are mounted so close to the countertop, that you have to squeeze your hand in there, really shove it hard, and most of the soap will be wiped off when you tug your hand from under the contraption.
Sadly, not all bathrooms can enjoy the budgets and shelter of such forward-thinking art museums. That’s how we end up in Poland, looking at photographs taken by Maciek Gasienica Giewont of a public restroom designed by Piotr Musialowski and Lukasz Przybylowicz. The restrooms are exceedingly simple, but the architects have done more than just provide a place to squat, they have created a nice space. The entry sequence through the timber framework that encloses the perimeter of the project is simple but distinctive. It’s an area that could easily be overlooked, but instead, is nice to look at.