According to this Bloomsberg article, “in December, she opened a luxury ladies' room on Oxford Street, Europe's busiest shopping area. Use of the toilet and powder room at the facility costs 5 pounds ($10).”
Her boutique pissoir is apparently “helping to fill the gap left by a decline in public bathrooms in London. The number of toilets dropped 40 percent from 2000 to 2005, leaving 415 to serve a population of 7.5 million, government figures show. That's not including the 28 million people who visit the U.K. capital each year.”
But why is there a shortage? The article explains:
The shortage belies London's history as an exemplary provider of public toilets. Its first public lavatory was built in the 12th century at the site of what is now the Royal Bank of Canada's offices. During the Victorian era, public bathrooms multiplied, and often boasted mosaic tiling and copper pipes.
Such facilities have sometimes fallen afoul of new laws. The Disability Act, which came into force in 2004, requires that public toilets be accessible to wheelchair users or have suitable alternatives nearby. Rather than invest in ramps and elevators, some authorities have shut or sold older restrooms.
Furthermore, “a 53 percent increase in London house prices during the past five years has helped fuel the decline of the public toilet, as authorities sell valuable real estate to developers.”
Admittedly, we want to see a further decrease in public bathrooms in London and elsewhere, because as chronic public urinators ourselves, we like hearing stories and tips from tourists who have had to navigate in pain through unfamiliar locales looking for somewhere secluded enough to take a piss. Where might we, for instance, relieve ourselves around the Vatican on a late Tuesday night? At night, is it safer to do it in the park or the alleyway? Illicit cartographies to share with fellow travelers or collect for future editions of Lonely Planet City Guides.
As an experience of landscape as visceral as, say, seeking shelter during an earthquake or from an incoming tornado, public urination is at least worth investigating in a landscape architecture studio.
Urinating at the Eisenman