One of Tokyo's most popular districts has installed transparent public toilets.
The “see through" toilets, created by the Pritzker prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban and more than a dozen other leading designers, are made from coloured smart glass that turns opaque when the cubicles are occupied.
The restrooms are part of an innovative project aimed at changing people's perceptions of public toilets.
Founded by the Nippon Foundation, a non-profit charity that focuses on social innovation, the Tokyo Toilet Project has partnered with some of the biggest names in the architecture and creative industries to create 17 new public toilet facilities around Shibuya.
The foundation said the cubicles’ glass outer walls turn opaque after the door is locked, allowing prospective users to survey the interior before spending a penny.
"The mission was to apply innovative design to make public bathrooms accessible for everyone regardless of gender, age or disability, with a goal “that people will feel comfortable using these public toilets and to foster a spirit of hospitality for the next person,”
"There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park," said a statement on the project's official website. "The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside."
"This allows users to check the cleanliness and whether anyone is using the toilet from the outside. At night, the facility lights up the park like a beautiful lantern," the statement added.
In the coming weeks, restrooms will open from architect Takenosuke Sakakura in Nishihara Itchome Park and another Pritzker price winner, Tadao Ando, in Jingu-Dori Park. Twelve more new public toilets are coming between August 31 and the summer of 2021.
All the facilities will be constructed by Daiwa House Group, the largest home-builder in Japan, with toilet equipment and layout advice provided by renowned Japanese toilet manufacturer TOTO Ltd.