Gravesend public toilets by Plastik Architects


Here's another building with a pointy prow, but this time it's a public toilet. Photographer Edmund Sumner has sent us these pictures of the new facilities in Gravesend in Kent, England, by Plastik Architects.

The local council asked for a "minor landmark" public convenience to act as the centrepiece to its regeneration masterplan.

All photos are © copyright Edmund Sumner

Here's some info from Plastic Architects:


Gravesend, a small town on the River Thames in Kent, is undergoing significant regeneration. The site for the public toilet lies at a key junction along a new public footpath linking the heart of Gravesend to public parkland to the south. The brief was to provide a new toilet facility on the edge of a car park within the Lord Street / Parrock street regeneration area.

Gravesham Borough Council required the building to be an eye-catching, 'minor-landmark' as a centrepiece to the adopted masterplan for the area. The basic form of the building is derived from the slope of the topography and the geometry of the site.

A simple conceptual diagram provides four main load-bearing internal walls, defining the internal spaces, with sanitary items serviced from the eastern wall.

The slope of the roof facing the new tree-lined avenue emphasises the slow incline up to Windmill Hill, reinforcing the view of the hilltop and creating a welcoming and bright entrance at its high point. A more fluid and faceted form was developed for the Parrock Street side in response to the fast moving traffic.

The roof form is a distorted and inverted cantilevered pyramid, consisting of four triangular facets that meet in the lobby space. Roof planes fold upwards to hover above, but never touch the irregular external walls.

Four faceted structural walls and two distorted columns are positioned to allow the roof seams to lead directly to the primary internal spaces - visually connecting the heart of the building to each corner. A single triangular roof-light was positioned along one seam in the heart of the plan, allowing the entrance space to be awash with natural daylight.

The mass concrete roof is separated from the tile-clad, concrete block walls by a continuous glazed clerestory; achieving a visual tension in the composition between architectural elements and allowing all internal spaces to be naturally lit. Structure is set away from the external wall to emphasise this separation. The design achieves a building that functions both as a landmark structure and as an efficiently planned toilet facility, housed within a sculptural form.


Posted by Rose Etherington

Posted on Wednesday January 2nd 2008 at 8:17 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • fran

    i think is necessary to show plans and fachades of the building to understand it completely, and also show the bathroom pieces, because we see the “outside architecture” but the main program (the bathrooms itself) is never show.

    If i have some gramatical mistakes, I give you my apologies but english is not my maternal languaje.

  • Tyler

    I love the blocks and colours, but I can’t agree with that crazy graphics and a ‘toilette’ sign :/

  • James

    whats up with the interior?

  • D.J.

    eraser heads……….

  • r.n

    This isn’t really reinventing the way we urinate and cleanse…but the local authority must be given credit for at least trying. We can only ask that they maintain it properly…

  • Richard John

    The intension has quite rightly not been to reinvent the way we urinate, but to create a sculptural building that accommodates the everyday, familiar and prosaic routines of daily life in a generous, dignified and provocative way.

    What’s with the preoccupation with (re)invention – surely the remit of inventors? Discovery I feel is by far the more appropriate and rewarding preoccupation for an architect interested in context and culture.

    Colourful and fluid interior spaces are a delightful and unexpected contrast to the sculptural, monochromatic exterior.

  • bald skull

    would be a REAL revolution if it somehow recycles the grey water and pumped it to a nearby garden/rooftop garden.

    SERIOUSLY, it’s time to green these ridiculous projects up people! HOLLA!

    and WhyTF would you want public toilets to be a ‘minor-landmark’ ? WTF!! LOL

  • r.n

    Well in that case, this ‘discovery’ is a manifestation of previous discoveries…rewarding in a self interested commercial way i’m sure.

  • gaque

    its cool you know. id use this for sure. the interior lighting and color really reminds me of the light cannons in LC’s tourette crypt.

  • Miami

    Love it! Who’d have guessed Gravesend had it in them? Only a matter of time before George Michael is seen in this part of Kent…

  • JQL

    I already told little Darthy to stop leaving his Starship Destroyer everywhere! Look at the mess is done with that nice WC!

  • Richard John

    The panoply of positive comments is quite impressive: La Tourette, comercial, Starship Destroyer. Well done indeed to Gravesend and Plastik Architects.

  • Drum

    bald skull, is there a brain in that bald skull of yours? why dont you think before you type? what precludes any building being a beautiful landmark.

  • Richard John

    Well said Drum!

    A sensitive architect can judge when to design a foreground building and when a back ground building is more appropriate. Looking at the photos it seems like a free-standing pavilion in the middle of a public space, performing a public function is quite justified in rising to the challenge with a bit of quirkiness and fun. After all this is no housing scheme. Function, site and context are all pointing to the need for a foreground landmark structure. And who knows, maybe those facetted walls conceal grey water harvesting and an array of solar cells as well!

    Its difficult without drawings, but let us all try to improve the quality of critical analysis a bit.

  • Phizz

    Need interior arrangement of facilities

  • Hanz

    The nicest public toilet i ever seen!

  • Everard Edbutt

    It will give the Junkies somewhere nice to shoot up!!!