Annual public toilet design competition underway as contestants aim to come up with best eco-friendly loo
Voting is underway in the latest edition of the KOŁO competition, a much-loved contest that seeks to redefine the way the public views bathroom architecture.
Aiming to highlight the lack of public toilets in Poland, whilst also presenting a range of innovative solutions, the annual awards frequently attract in excess of 300 entrants.
Open to students and young, upcoming architects, the competition is now in its 23rd year. Focusing on a different location each year, this time around participants found themselves challenged to design a toilet to be built in the Tatra National Park.
With this in mind the organizers, the bathroom firm Gerberit, have emphasized the need to take into account the location: “The area is near a green tourist trail, next to a rest area by Polana Huciska in the lower part of the Chochołowska Valley,” they wrote. “This is an important tourist destination and where the seasonal Rakoń tourist train has its final stop.”
Gerberit also stressed that the toilets must be designed with all users in mind, including the elderly, young children and those with disabilities. Moreover, entrants would “design following the spirit of sustainable development”.
Clarifying this point, they encouraged the use of natural and environmentally friendly materials, as well as the incorporation of water retention solutions and renewable energy sources.
Boasting a total prize pot of PLN 50,000, the winner will receive PLN 19,000 whilst other cash rewards will be handed out to the most sustainable project as well as that deemed to be most in tune with “the principles of universal design”.
Reduced to a shortlist of 178 entries, it has been no surprise to find that the overwhelming majority have taken inspiration from the region’s rich architectural heritage.
Defined as ‘the Podhale style’, this form was born from early shepherd huts that found themselves characterized by their stone buttresses, rough wooden elements and low profiles.
As the centuries drew on, they became embedded in local culture with their design referencing the folk traditions of the area.
Often strikingly creative, the submissions include ‘W Ramie’, an LED-lit cabin using photovoltaic panels and adorned with folksy patterns both inside and out.
Another, simply titled ‘Toaleta Koło Szklaku’, pays tribute to the geographic location via its traditional-styled, pointed wooden features and sheep wool insulation.
With architects encouraged to bear in mind their surrounds, yet more have opted for grass ceilings designed to blend in with the environment whilst simultaneously encouraging vegetation to flourish.
Other concepts have chosen more simpler aesthetics, with many mimicking the barns and outhouses that proliferate this rural idyll.
These, though, have been offset by more complex projects such as ‘Hucisko’, a chalet whose intricacy is a triumph of imagination.
Built to minimize the use of non-renewable energy, and kept at a constant temperature of fifteen degrees Celsius, its eco credentials have been complemented by an elaborate design featuring wooden sunflowers decorating the gables.
Spellbinding in their uniqueness, further projects number a bathroom purposefully designed to best catch the sunrise and sunset, as well as another largely concealed under a grassy manmade mound.
Presenting a wealth of ideas, the participants have shown no shortage of originality – sleek and sophisticated, several proposals could quite easily grace the pages of a lifestyle magazine.
Whittled down by a jury panel including the celebrated Ewa Kuryłowicz and the internationally recognized architect Robert Konieczny, those on the shortlist will now find their fate decided by a public online vote set to close on October 28th.
Now highly-publicized, the competition has become one of the most talked-about architectural contests in Poland.
Last year saw the capital’s historic Łazienki Park the centre of attention, while previous competitions have resulted in projects being realized on Rondo Mogilskie in Krakow as well as on the banks of Warsaw’s Wisła River and the city’s central train station.
For a full list of this year's entrants, and to partake in the vote, see: http://konkurskolo.pl/projekty/