Innovations That Matter

SmithGroup's AmeniTREES | Photo source SmithGroup

Public toilets that double as industrial art

Architecture & Design

The winner of a design competition is looking to change the way people think about and use public amenities

Spotted: Design firm SmithGroup has won a competition for their new public toilets, held by the San Francisco Department of Public Works. The winning design, called AmeniTREES, includes a commercial kiosk, a green roof and a rainwater harvesting system that requires minimal maintenance.

AmeniTREES consist of a curved steel-framed pavilion with cladding metal panels and glass, topped with a green roof. The pavilions also include an integrated digital screen, which SmithGroup suggested could be used for paid advertising to help pay for the pavilions.

The toilets were developed as a kit, which can be customised in four different ways. These include a single or double unit pavilion, and bench and rooftop tree add-ons.

The pavilions also come with a rainwater harvesting system. Rainwater collected can then be used to water the green roof, flush toilets, or wash the pavilions. SmithGroup hopes the rainwater system will also reduce pressure on the cities drinking water. 

According to the architects, the idea was to make the pavilions adaptable to fit into a variety of areas, saying “Developing these design alternatives, along with the incorporation of varied native grasses and trees, allow for a cohesive collection of pavilions that are as varied as San Francisco’s neighbourhoods”. They also point out that the green roofs could help combat the urban heat island effect.



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