The Golden Toilet – is museum taking the P*ss?

New York’s Guggenheim museum unveiled a solid gold toilet last week.  Whilst reading the story in the Guardian I was convinced this was some sort of April Fools joke.  But alas it wasn’t.

The fully functional, Solid Gold Toilet sits on the 4th floor of the museum with the only indication of the museum’s latest ‘exhibit’ being a security guard outside the toilet, a small plaque and a ‘no bag’ policy.  The practicalities of having a permanent security presence and stopping anyone taking a bag into the fully functional convenience may mean that at some point in the future the door will be replaced with a glass screen when the novelty wears off (and the costs are realised)?

In order to get it made, the museum sent two of its existing toilets over to Italy where the replica was made by the artist Maurizio Cattelan, who describes the piece as “100% art for the 99%”.  Cattelan made several casts of the various parts of the toilet which were then soldered together to make the perfect copy.

goldenloo

So what are the practicalities should any of my clients ask for such a thing?  Well if they can afford a Golden Loo I am not charging them enough!  The issues are all about security not cleaning – actually a Golden Toilet would be relatively easy to clean.  The toilet in question however will be cleaned every 15 minutes using a sanitizing wipe and steam cleaned at longer intervals to give a ‘hospital level of cleanliness’.  Anyone that has contracted a hospital acquired infection will be pleased!

However maybe I am reading too much into this – the piece is titled ‘America’.  I am no art connoisseur, but if this is a reference to America ‘going down the pan’ and the ongoing US Election campaigns then maybe Cattelan and the Guggenheim deserve more credit.  Let’s hope that when the Golden Throne is no longer newsworthy that the ‘Powers That Be’ melt it down and use the funds to build 1 million toilets in the third world.  That would touch many more lives than the 4th floor of a New York Museum.

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5 Reasons why Unisex doesn’t Work

Willow Tree Primary School were featured heavily in the National press recently after a school refurbishment redesigned  all the toilets into unisex.  Just to clarify this means all toilets are available to use for both boys and girls.

It is understood that in small offices and some uber trendy locations that the unisex concept works really well and this may seem like a great idea to architects or designers. However, in my experience, many such toilets, after a period of time, get reallocated to either male of female use.

Here are the top 5 reasons why unisex toilets fail -please feel free to comment.

  1. Males.  Whether this be at a school or office, the male population tend to stand up when urinating.  Most males can’t hit a urinal from 30cm so hitting a toilet bowl from 60cm is almost impossible.  This is exacerbated if the toilet seat has not been put up.  Needless to say men do not clean up after themselves: this will be tolerated for a short period before there is a revolution and signs go on the doors.
  2. Embarrassment. Female staff or pupils will avoid using toilets where there is even a miniscule risk of creating an opportunity to be the butt (apologies for the pun) of someone else’s cruel joke or sarcastic comment – phew ‘did you light a match?’
  3. Cleaning. The people tasked with cleaning the toilets will soon complain that they have much more cleaning to do – twice as many toilet bowls requiring special attention as before.   There is a very strong environmental argument that says that keeping toilets separate sex reduces the amount of chemicals needed to maintain standards.
  4. Costs.  Not only increased cleaning products but increased labour to keep the toilets clean.  But another cost means that every toilet requires a sanitary disposal bin.  By making all the toilets unisex you double your sanitary waste disposal costs.
  5. Community.  Toilets are not all bad places.  There can be opportunities to chat or say hello whilst washing hands.  In these modern times men spend almost as much time in front of the mirror grooming themselves as women do.  These communal activities can be positive and should be encouraged.

So there are my top 5 reasons.  With regard to schools which is where we started, call me a cynic but these newer schools being built, especially those through PPI or with 20 year management contracts, it may well be in the management company’s interests to have unisex toilets with twice the cleaning and twice the costs?

Would they do this at home?

COMMENT FROM THE CLOSET

All eyes were on Scotland at the weekend as one of the biggest rivalries in sport and one of the oldest club football games was played for the first time in the league for four years.  The enthusiasm and rival
ry, the media attention, television, newspapers and social media was, in my humble opinion, a bit over the top, but who am I to judge?

There is a small element of both sides keen to stir up trouble and fan the flames of hatred and violence. Thankfully as each year passes these unruly elements seem to get smaller and weaker albeit they seem to come up with more and more ‘inventive’ ways of creating a news story.

This weekend at the stadium in question the Away fans decided to destroy a block of toilets.  No doubt the cost of repair will run into several thousand pounds and the inconvenience of not having nearby ‘conveniences’ at the next home game won’t affect the away fans who inflicted the damage.  A different set of fans will have to find an alternative toilet option. They may even have to walk 50 metres further along and queue a bit longer.

celtic-park-destroyed-toilets

This toilet block, so wastefully destroyed, had it been in sub-Sahara Africa, would have provided much needed facilities for up to 500 children.   For a mere fraction of the cost to repair (about £240.00) a block of toilets could be built with running water and essential hygiene supply such as soap.

I wonder in the cold light of day if the so called ‘fans’ who take for granted such basic facilities as a toilets would have been so destructive if this was the only toilet for the community and the nearest one for miles around?  I suspect not.

To find out how you can build a toilet block in Africa visit