Innovation That Matters

Water-recycling toilets | Photo source Unsplash

New modular public toilets can recycle water


San Francisco is introducing new public toilets with modular pods that can be used as information kiosks and also recycle water.

Innovations in public space design can serve many functions such as sustainability, accessibility and inclusivity. We have previously seen innovative designs for public spaces such as an IoT green wall from Germany that removes pollution from urban environments. Another innovation is a project in The Netherlands that asks residents to replace their street parking with personal green spaces.

In San Francisco, the Department of Public Works are replacing the city’s public toilets with a new design. Created by architectural firm SmithGroupJJR, the new design features modular public toilets the shape of pods, called AmeniTrees. The AmeniTrees will connect to the City sewer, water and electrical lines and the city intends to use them for the next 20 years. The have disability accessibility and are self-cleaning. Smaller pods that act as an information kiosk are also part of the design. As well as being a point of information for the public, the city intends the kiosks will offset the costs for the new toilets. They will display advertising and messages to the public from city agencies about relevant events, programs and issues.

SmithGroupJJR design principal, Bill Katz, said: “The big idea is to combine sculpture and technology. We want an object that literally reflects the surroundings and the neighbourhoods that it is in, but also will be forward-looking.” As well as improving the city’s aesthetics with their liquid metal design, these pods are improving the city’s sustainability. The AmeniTrees have water recycling systems which allow it to make use of recycled water such as rain water. For example, the pods will use recycled water for toilet flushing and cleaning the toilet. Made from a set of panels, the pods can easily be transformed into varying shapes and sizes. How else can cities combine technology and design to build smarter spaces?




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