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The Margin: Are you ready for public restrooms with transparent walls?

The Margin


The Nippon Foundation

Anybody who’s ever had the displeasure of finding relief in a restroom like, say, the ones found at the Grand Street soccer field — once dubbed New York City’s worst — knows full well that the whole public toilet scene is way past due for a major overhaul.

But transparent walls?

Yes, Tokyo recently debuted two new public restrooms, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Shigeru Ban, with see-through walls. OK, they do become opaque when locked, but the idea of being able to see inside is supposed to alleviate a couple of concerns.

“There are two things we worry about when entering a public restroom, especially those located at a park,” the project’s official website said in a statement announcing the opening earlier this month. “The first is cleanliness, and the second is whether anyone is inside.”

Here’s a look at how it works:

And at night, they light up like “a beautiful lantern,” website says.

Still, some residents don’t exactly trust the technology to guard their privacy.

“I am not willing to risk my privacy because someone wants to make a fancy toilet,” Sachiko Ishikawa, a 32-year-old writer and translator, told the New York Times in an interview.

The installation of these restrooms was supposed to coincide with a campaign to get rid of the city’s older public toilets ahead of the since-postponed Summer Olympics.

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