130913 Beijing Washrooms 370 Tile 22 Re-render day side more transparent

Beijing Public Toilets, 2013 A unique public toilet in the Hutong Area next to Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The concept was created to fit around an existing site that was de-commissioned due to ill repair some years earlier. Traditionally, the entire neighbourhood would rely on such facilities as the local housing was created without toilets which gives context to the historical significance of this site.



130913 Beijing Washrooms 370 Tile 33 re-render

It was important to consider several important aspects, not only is the site within walking distance of one of China’s most important cultural sites, Tiananmen Square, it is also sandwiched within the classic stone work of basic local housing. The studio developed the concept to reflect these two extremes.

“We anticipated that there could be needed to apply this concept to other buildings of differing proportion, thus we had to examine two important challenges in the structure. Firstly, we needed to make the interior of the toilets a solid and functional environment, one that is built into the ground and is strong and long lasting. One must not ignore that a classic toilet would be five holes in the ground with no flushing or partitions – our consideration was to offer an improved quality of life through the addition of drainage and privacy”

– Michael Young

This simple interior structure leads the way to easy cleaning, air flow and management of the industrial aspects that are housed such as power terminals and drainage.




The solution to the second challenge was to cover the toilet with a framework made up of glass tiles; a covering that was not over-designed, was easy to construct in the limited space, and also didn’t try to compete visually with the building.

“It would have been simple to use this briefing to become a pseudo architect, so instead we used our experience within industrial and interior design to create an awning that we felt would be dutiful, a structure which must consider not only light and airflow for locality but also show respect for history and future application.”

  – Michael Young

It is for this reason the studio developed a tiling system that would not only reflect the architecture of the local Hutong area but also bring a fresh point of view to creating structures that offer protection from both the sun and the rain. The tiles are designed to deflect both light and rain and the material offers inherent insulation to assist with the extreme temperatures experienced in the city between summer and winter.