images ©Satoshi Nagare courtesy Nippon Foundation

Joining the likes of Architects Tadao Ando, Fumihiko Maki, Shigeru Ban and many other renowned names,  Marc Newson’s Toilet is the latest addition to the Nippon Foundation’s Tokyo Toilet Project in the hip neighbourhood of Shibuya. It is the only one to be contributed by a designer based outside Japan.


The overall scheme of the structure is reminiscent of Japanese vernacular tea houses and shrines. Minoko, a feature often found in shrines, temples and tearooms, is the inspiration behind the toilet’s roof form and copper finish. “I wanted the roof form to trigger a subconscious feeling of comfort and peacefulness amid its busy, hypermodern location,” explains Newson.

Copper patina enables smooth transitioning at roof edges, blending in with the seamless surfaces, also a typical characteristic of Newson’s design style.  Concrete, being one of the widely used materials in Japan, was picked for exterior walls.

“It is important to me that the Toilet feels trustworthy and honest inside and out: The bright interior is seamlessly and hygienically finished in a monochromatic green, one of my favorite colors,” says Newson.

The design is contemporary and yet rooted in local tradition. The ageing of the copper roof, concrete walls and stone base will further knit the built form within the city’s urban fabric. It is the 14th public toilet under this project (out of 17) and opened for public use earlier this month.

Urasando Public Toilet

4-28-1, Sendagaya, Shibuya City, Tokyo 151-0051, Japan (Google Map)