Featured Stories

We are participating in the conversation about equitable and
resilient public health and sanitation systems.

Is Portland ready for urinals in recycling bins?

Although PHLUSH is willing to take on problems others don’t want to deal with, we’ve been pretty stymied by public urination.  Our neighborhood now has great 24/7 public toilets so we’re losing patience with the practice and hate the results. When the temperature drops, it’s embarrassing to walk over those frozen stripes across the sidewalk. Clean ups are costly and the costs are passed on to all of us.  And there are growing complaints about the toll that urine is taking on newly restored historic buildings as well as new ones.
At the same time, everyone urinates.  You have to question the fairness of criminalizing urination, particularly when signage is inadequate and visitors don’t know where toilets are.   Old Town Chinatown is a transportation hub, with travelers arriving round the clock.   Nightlife patrons are still our customers, even after the bars close. Homeless men and women who find relative safety sleeping on our streets may be reluctant to pack up their belongings and walk 7 or 8 minutes to the nearest toilet.
Into this messy, discomfiting situation comes a bold out-of-the-box proposal from a 24-year old Swiss designer: the wheelie bin urinal. Bischof adapted an ordinary plastic recycling bins with wheels and fitted a funnel with a 10 inch mouton into its side.  The funnel transfers urine into the base which is designed to convert it into bio fertilizer rich in nitrates, phosphorus, and potassium.  The youth designer then fielded tested his invention on main streets, tracking use  on closed circuit video.
This small-footprint innovation in ecological sanitation has been showcased by the BBC and is getting good reviews from experts.
Bischof is currently collaborating with the Design Against Crime Research Center,  a socially responsive, practice-led research centre located
at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London   http://www.designagainstcrime.com/index.php   This is great stuff.  How about Portland designers getting together to tackle the really hard livability questions.  Issues like signage might be elegant and easy.
In 2010 PHLUSH has the opportunity to take local solutions to an international audience.  We’re serving on a Technical Advisory Committee  led by the International Code Council http://www.iccsafe.org/ and the World Toilet Organization to prepare global guidelines for public toilet design and operation.  The Portland Loo has gotten some attention.  Isn’t it likely that if we put our heads together, we can come up with a dozen ideas as good or better?
Let’s do it!   And thank you, Stephen Bishoff for the inspiration.
Although PHLUSH is willing to take on problems others don’t want to deal with, we’ve been pretty stymied by public urination.  Our Old Town Chinatown neighborhood now has great 24/7 public toilets so we’re losing patience with the practice and hate the results. When the temperature drops, it’s embarrassing to walk over those frozen stripes across the sidewalk. Clean ups are costly and we all bear the costs.  And there are growing complaints about the toll that urine is taking on newly restored historic buildings as well as new ones. bin03At the same time, everyone urinates.  You have to question the fairness of criminalizing urination, particularly when signage is inadequate and visitors don’t know where toilets are.   Old Town Chinatown is a transportation hub, with travelers arriving round the clock.   Nightlife patrons are still our customers, even after the bars close. Homeless men and women who find relative safety sleeping on our streets may be reluctant to pack up their belongings and walk 7 or 8 minutes to the nearest toilet. Into this messy, discomfiting situation comes a bold out-of-the-box proposal: the wheelie bin urinal.   The brainchild  24-year old Swiss designer Stephen Bischof , it consists of an ordinary wheeled plastic recycling bin fitted with a 10-inch funnel.  The funnel transfers urine into the base which is designed to convert it into bio fertilizer rich in nitrates, phosphorus, and potassium.  The youth designer then field tested his invention on the streets of London, tracking use  on closed circuit video. This small-footprint innovation in ecological sanitation has been showcased by the BBC, acclaimed by the design community, and  favorably reviewed by eco-sanitation experts. Bischof is currently collaborating with the Design Against Crime Research Center,  a socially responsive, practice-led research centre located at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design, University of the Arts London. This is great stuff.  How about Portland designers getting together to tackle the really hard livability questions? Issues like signage might be elegant and easy. In 2010 PHLUSH has the opportunity to take local solutions to an international audience.  We’re serving on a Technical Advisory Committee  led by the International Code Council and the World Toilet Organization to prepare global guidelines for public toilet design and operation.  The Portland Loo has gotten some attention. Isn’t it likely that if we put our heads together, we can come up with a dozen ideas as good or better? Let’s do it!   And thank you, Stephen Bischof, for the inspiration.


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