Let me just say right off, I don’t normally take photos when I’m in a toilet. In fact, I can honestly say I’ve only ever done it once. But it is a special case, because these are the Hundertwasser toilets, in Kawakawa, Northland.
Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928-2000) was an Austrian architect and designer who settled in New Zealand in his later years. His work was informed by a humanist aesthetic; and characterised by irregular, organic forms and the use of unusual materials. Virtually all of his architectural commissions were carried out in Europe; the public toilets in Kawakawa being the main exception.
Hundertwasser first came to Northland during the 1970s, buying land and later spending increasing amounts of time in New Zealand. When the local council in Kawakawa decided to upgrade the town’s public toilets in 1998, Hundertwasser offered both a design, and considerable assistance in construction (1).
The result is rather wonderful. The walls and floor are covered with a mosaic of tiles, while light comes from glass bottles embedded in the concrete walls. A tree grows through the forecourt.
Not surprisingly, the toilets have become something of a tourist attraction. Albeit, a useful one.