THE TOKYO TOILET: Kengo Kuma @ Nabeshima Shoto Park
As part of the Tokyo Toilet project, architect Kengo Kuma designed public bathroom units leveraging one of his signature materials – Japanese cedar louvers arranged randomly to cover the building. As it’s located in the Nabeshima Shoto Park in Shibuya where there are abundant trees and plants, he named it “森のコミチ (a walk in the woods).” The five sets of bathroom units are gathered together by a narrow lane as if they were tiny houses in a small village community deep in the woods.
Each of the five units comes with a distinct function such as addressing baby care, being wheelchair friendly or having a nice powder room, all designed, furnished and equipped accordingly. Visitors can choose which unit to use depending on their needs, which minimizes unnecessary interactions with other people in the post-COIVD era. But that doesn’t mean the Walk in the Woods is divisive or isolating – it’s actually the opposite. Kuma designed this little “village” as an open, transparent assembly connected by a lane, which also connects the units with the surrounding environment. Kuma declares that his bathroom is a “dawn for the ‘era of woods’ for public bathrooms.” Woods (forests) represent a loosely related whole made up of small, diverse but indispensable elements that are spontaneously/sporadically connected to each other.