Kumutoto Toilets

  • urban design
  • award-winning

Wellington Waterfront Ltd

Wellington

2011

Named Third Best Public Toilets in the World by Design Curial, 2015

Named One of the World’s 10 Best Public Toilets by Design Curial, 2014

NZIA Wellington Architecture Award for Public Architecture, 2012


The Kumutoto public toilets are located at the Synergy Plaza in the Kumutoto Precinct. As well as taking into account practical considerations such as security, hygiene and vandalism, the brief was to create a structure with a sculptural form, something iconic, highly visible and unusual that was also well integrated into the visual and historical context of the surrounding precinct.

To be seen in the round, the design comprises two elongated, irregularly curved forms, instantly recognisable from all key pedestrian approaches and terminating a sequence of spaces and elements along the laneway. Recalling the waterfront’s shipping past, they evoke the crusty saltiness of the sea in the smooth levelness of the precinct, clinging to its surface like barnacles to the underside of a boat. 

These organic forms, eye-catching and instantly memorable, are suggestive of crustaceans or sea creatures, as if the structure was a kind of fossilised husk that had been discovered and inhabited.

Each form contains one accessible public toilet. Their robust concrete construction is appropriate to the surrounding maritime environment. A metal rainscreen, painted the brick red of the neighbouring sheds, ties them into the heritage context and enhances their visibility. While they contrast with the linear architecture of the surrounding buildings, again contributing to their visual distinctness, the curves of the new structure also echo some of the ornate detailing on the nearby sheds. Cantilevered ‘tails’ provide natural ventilation. 

These organic forms, eye-catching and instantly memorable, are suggestive of crustaceans or sea creatures, as if the structure was a kind of fossilised husk that had been discovered and inhabited.

Named Third Best Public Toilets in the World by Design Curial, 2015

Named One of the World’s 10 Best Public Toilets by Design Curial, 2014

NZIA Wellington Architecture Award for Public Architecture, 2012

These organic forms, eye-catching and instantly memorable, are suggestive of crustaceans or sea creatures, as if the structure was a kind of fossilised husk that had been discovered and inhabited.