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Urinating in London
Elaine Gennard-Levy spent so much time one day looking for a public toilet in London that she decided to build her own.

Clark Sorensen

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.”

Clark Sorensen

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

  • Mario Ballesteros
  • March 20, 2007 at 1:54:00 PM CDT
  • can't remember where i saw these much grosser ones with rolling-stones-like mouth'n'tongues

    oh and schipol airport in amsterdam has caterpillars and mushrooms

  • Anonymous
  • March 20, 2007 at 3:50:00 PM CDT
  • This being my first post to your blog, hat's off and a resounding Huzzah! to you for the best blog i have seen on things Landscape Architectural!
    Just wanted to add a comment to this topic that the Brits seem to have this problem in other parts of the world as well. As a Latvian, I came across the article below.
    I wish you all the best and keep up the wonderful posts!

    Caught on camera: Briton urinating by Latvia's holiest monument
    By DPA
    Mar 19, 2007, 12:15 GMT

    Riga - A British tourist has been charged with hooliganism after urinating near Latvia's most revered monument while his friends photographed his performance, officials confirmed Monday.

    The incident comes only days after the British Embassy in Riga launched a public-awareness campaign aimed at boosting 'responsible tourism' - including respect for local sensibilities.

    The Briton, identified only as John, was detained early on Friday evening by the Freedom Monument in Riga - the memorial to all those who have sacrificed their lives in the cause of Latvian freedom, police spokeswoman Inese Timane told Deutsche Presse-Agentur dpa.

    Tests showed that John was severely drunk, with over five times the blood-alcohol level permitted to drive a car.

    Local media reported that while John was answering the call of nature, his friends were busy photographing his activities - a fact which is likely to make prosecutors' job considerably easier.

    Last November a British tourist was arrested for urinating directly on the Freedom Monument. He was prosecuted for a criminal offence, banned from leaving the country until the case was heard, and fined over 800 lats (1,512 dollars).

    Since Latvia joined the EU in 2004, the number of Western tourists visiting the country has soared. However, with the boom has come a growing concern over rising numbers of alcohol-related offences perpetrated by foreigners.

    Last Thursday the British Embassy in Riga launched a campaign aimed at boosting responsible behaviour among visitors to Latvia. One of the campaign's key pieces of advice was, 'Do not urinate in public. Use a toilet instead.'

    � 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur

  • Anonymous
  • April 5, 2007 at 10:29:00 AM CDT
  • Where is Alex Trevi? Normally he updates all the time...

  • margaretbot
  • April 13, 2007 at 8:48:00 AM CDT
  • Alex! I miss your posts. I hope your keeping things Pruned.


  • Anonymous
  • April 13, 2007 at 5:54:00 PM CDT
  • Although the number of official public restrooms in London and elsewhere may be diminishing fast, bear in mind that one useful alternative is the restroom in a pub. And there are of course thousands of pubs throughout Britain to choose from. There is also no requirement or obligation to buy any kind of intoxicating liquor whilst on the premises. (This would in fact defeat the object of your visit.) A quick dash in and back out again is all that's needed. To anyone who feels they are in some way taking advantage of the good nature of the publican concerned, a small donation in the pub's charity collection box should be enough to assuage your conscience. Hope this advice is helpful to the desperate :))

    PS - Loved the photos in this entry. Very smart!

  • Anonymous
  • April 15, 2007 at 6:38:00 PM CDT
  • Hi Alexander.

    Please check
    Architecture videos from arround the world.

  • James Tenyenhuis
  • April 19, 2007 at 9:13:00 AM CDT
  • This comment has been removed by the author.
  • Anonymous
  • April 26, 2007 at 7:40:00 AM CDT
  • Tell me I'm not the only one who thinks that these toilets are disgusting. I can't imagine going to piss in one of those.

  • Anonymous
  • April 26, 2007 at 9:55:00 AM CDT
  • Alex Trevi is dead. Long live Alex Trevi.

  • Anonymous
  • April 26, 2007 at 1:00:00 PM CDT
  • Please,

    No sitting to pee.

    -The Management

  • Anonymous
  • April 26, 2007 at 9:00:00 PM CDT
  • Hope all is okay Alex Trevi, you haven't updated in a while.

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