Fit For a King

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We spend almost 92 days on the toilet in a lifetime so why not make the experience one to remember?

This week Defign Blog goes bog. We check out some toilets that are more art form than public convenience and a pub which features a delightful differentiation from gents and ladies.

Rotorua's Redwood Visitor Centre public toilets are one of eight New Zealand toilets which feature in the Lonely Planet's Toilets: A Spotter's Guide.

Designer Darryl Church says he could've just about written a book about the challenges faced in seeing the project through to completion.

"The initial concept included a suspended toilet, six metres up in a mirror glass cylinder. It was pretty controversial - imagine it... it would’ve been an amazing experience, being up high in the tree canopy sitting with full view, but no one could see you. It polarised people though and a fear of the unconventional won on this occasion."

Because of their placement in an historic and culturally significant location, the design was subject to consultation with the local iwi as one of the stakeholders.

"It wasn't appropriate to make a show of going to the toilet. There needed to be a sensitivity in how and where they were placed. The final design using corten cylinders sit harmoniously amongst the trees and each of the screen designs depicts a native bird in a Maori inspired graphic."

The Matakana Village Pub and Restaurant north of Auckland is full of whimsy and the toilets are no exception.

Peter Were, the designer behind the makeover of the pub says both he and his client felt that too often the toilet is treated as a functional area only, where ease of cleaning and maintenance overrides what looks good.

"We kept the walls clean and easy to maintain, but we wanted to add an element of surprise and feminise and masculinise each room subtly. We did that by wallpapering the ceilings. All it requires is an idea and in our case knowing someone, who knew how to wallpaper ceilings."

For the gents: a digital print from Cole and Sons and for the ladies: a decadent floral from Designers Guild. Both rooms share a glazed display case in the wall in between them featuring albino baby possum taxidermy. Now that's memorable.

Both Peter and Darryl received ADNZ | Resene Architectural Design Awards for their work on these projects. To see other past award winners visit

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