Parisian Street Urinals Turn Pee Into Compost


In many cities, getting caught peeing in public can saddle you with a hefty fine, or even land you in court. But there are simply not enough public restrooms to accommodate the needs of bar hoppers, the homeless, and people with weak bladders. Some cities have attempted to rectify this problem with free-standing bathrooms, while others have installed retractable urinals that rise up from the ground at night. (Amsterdam has a version that’s made for women to use, too.)

Paris is dealing with the perils of stray pee in a more attractive way, as Co.Design reports. Uritrottoir, a public urinal created by the Nantes-based design studio Faltazi, is a flower bed urinal that creates compost out of men’s pee. The city has bought two of the urinals so far, with plans to purchase more if they prove effective.

The flower boxes sit on top of a compost bin filled with hay. The urine is diverted into the straw, adding an extra source of nitrogen to the composting process. It doesn't directly provide compost to the flowers atop the bed, though; the plants are just for a little extra class. In order to make sure that no individual Urtrottoir overflows, the bins have wireless sensors, so someone can monitor the pee levels remotely and replace the bins, transporting the golden-soaked straw to a facility outside the city. According to The New York Times, it will cost around $865 a month to pay workers to clean the two toilets and haul away the pee-straw mix.

Faltazi previously created a funnel that can be installed in hay bales at music festivals to create outdoor, compost-friendly urinals in any location. Placed on sidewalks and in secluded corners, the flower-box version gives men out and about in the city an opportunity to relieve themselves in a way that doesn’t require a city cleanup crew. The boxes come with a privacy shield much like a regular urinal would have, so passersby don’t get an eyeful. And when no one is actively adding compost materials, they just look like a nice little flower bed.

It's a stand-up only design, though, so women will have to keep holding it for the foreseeable future.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy Faltazi.