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Public Toilet Design for Düsseldorf


Europe and Northern America




Urban Design and Public Space

The first of a total of 43 new modular toilet facilities in Düsseldorf at the Volksgarten. Credits: Stadt Düsseldorf/Uwe Schaffmeister

Project Details


  • Düsseldorf (Germany)


  • Commission


  • Landeshauptstadt Düsseldorf Amt für Gebäudemanagement (Amt 23)



At TSPA, we do not usually work in architecture. Our relationship with the city of Düsseldorf began by formulating a new city public toilet strategy, akin to our work with Berlin. After the stakeholder engagement and analysis, Düsseldorf approached us with a unique request: to design an individualised toilet for their city.

The project piqued our interest because it involved a small architectural component that required us to consider sustainability, water management, inclusivity, and selecting materials that were vandalism-resistant. We had the challenge to integrate all these factors into a singular, compact design.

Concept for Public Toilets Provision

The new Düsseldorf public toilet design combines sustainability with modern technology and materials. The shell of the facilities is designed as a identifiable shape—a distinct roof reminiscent of the famous “Narrenkappe”—around a functional core. The colours of the modular system echo Düsseldorf’s street furniture, blending simply and elegantly into different contexts, even in prominent locations such as the Medienhafen.

As urban public space is a limited resource, we designed a floor plan with the lowest possible space consumption, while still achieving maximum hygiene and accessibility in the interior in accordance with the VDI 3818 and DIN 18040-1 standards.

The modular facility has two rooms: the main space is the user room, the publicly accessible area, equipped with a self-cleaning toilet bowl, a washbasin, and a fold-out baby changing table. For wheelchair users, there is a 1500mm turning circle clear of the washbasin and toilet bowl.

To add, the building envelope is designed for people in need of visual assistance. Features include: a blinking light strip, with changing colour display for “free” and “occupied”; and an attention strip on the façade and floor markings on the outside make it easier for visually impaired people to find their way around, while an electric sliding door makes it easier to enter the toilet facilities.

The dark gray, smooth, slightly reflective and robust surface makes the modular system clean, safe, and inviting. Materials can be easily replaced or cleaned. The lighting and the partial reflective external surface grant safety by day and night. Indeed, all operating elements are designed according to the two-senses principle and to also be read and operated by people with sensory impairments.

By greening the roof with native meadow flowers and herbs, the modular toilets contribute to improving the urban climate and create additional rainwater sinks, bind fine dust, cool the air, improve the quality of public spaces, and create habitats for insects. Finally, all components of the building are designed to be recycled and/or dismantled for reuse.

The design process led to several diverse module options, which were presented to the city representatives. During the engagement session, the final option was chosen based on several criteria, such as materials, colour, or shape.