New public restroom block in Tokyo designed by Japanese creative director Kazoo Sato perfectly fits the current pandemic of COVID-19. The designer calls it a contactless toilet because all its functions, from door opening to flushing, are controlled by voice. A voice recognition system utilizes several microphones installed both inside and outside the building.
“Hi Toilet” is located in Nanago Dori Park in the heart of the Shibuya financial district. The hemispherical structure is the latest addition to The Tokyo Toilet project, an initiative by Nippon Foundation to replace old public squat toilets in the Japanese capital with new state-of-art designs.
Sato says that this idea appeared long before the arrival of COVID-19. The designer was inspired by users’ behavior in public toilets across Europe and the United States. A study found that most of them prefer to avoid contact with toilet surfaces. For example, 60% step on levers to flush, 50% open doors with toilet paper, 40% close doors with a hip, and 30% avoid hand contact as much as possible by using their elbows.
A hemispherical shape of the structure enhances internal airflow and allows effectively ventilating unpleasant smells. The designer also chose the white color for all the surfaces to emphasize the cleanliness of the toilet.