Although Paris is a dream city, it has a severe “wild pissing” problem, or “les pipis sauvages” in French. So, a French company “Faltazi” created eco-friendly street urinals called Uritrottoir in order to keep their city clean in a sustainable way. Combined with flower pots, the device stores the urine in a block of wood chips, straw or sawdust, which later gets taken away and turned into compost. While explaining, the company said:
“Everywhere, where communities have to manage the nuisances associated with the influx of people: downtown, restaurants, events and facilities receiving the public… Uritrottoir offers an ecological, economical and efficient solution for small commissions. Maintained by the technical services or a delegated company, the Uritrottoir stores urine, in a bed of dry matter, which will later be composted on a dedicated platform. For a better integration with the landscape, the Uritrottoir is equipped with a flower planter that will embellish your public spaces. He settles on the premises at risk of urinary effusion, out of sight.”
The device has already been installed on one of the wet spots of the city, the Gare de Lyon train yard, by SNCF public railways. Uritrottoir is composed of a sturdy material that is coated with anti-graffiti paint and it has a mini-parterre on top. The flowers sit in a pot consisting of dry straw collected and transformed into compost so as to be used in gardens and parks. Moreover, the organic compost consists of high carbon content, dramatically decreasing the smell. Laurent Lebot, one of the two designers, told:
“We’re making compost, a fertilizer, so it’s a circular economy. We’re re-using two waste products, straw, and urine, to make something that makes plants grow.”
There are two sizes of Uritrottoir that are available: one is capable of holding the urine of around 600 users and the other one is smaller and can absorb half the amount. Both of the urinals are integrated with an electronic monitoring system that sends a signal when the soaked straw is full. Other than the oblong ones, there is also a corner-shaped version of urinals available for hidden spots.
However, the question that whether the €3,000 priced urinals can absolutely solve the public urination problem in Paris or not is still open. But, Victor Massip, the designer, holds that,
“The daily basis of the industry is not green at all and, in the short term, the government must play its role of key influencer, by genuinely becoming critics of all that is technical, this is, then, all part of the thinking designer’s role.”
There are several other designers who are looking to solve the public urination issue in addition to Faltazi. For example, elevator-like urinals that rise from underground with a hydraulic lift have been introduced by Urilift International BV, a Netherland-based company.