Is it possible for a utilitarian space like an outdoor restroom to be seen as something beautiful as well as useful? The Trail Restroom along Austin’s Ladybird Hike and Bike Trail proves that places like this do not have to be cold, impersonal, and kind of scary – they can function as works of art.
Miro Rivera Architects took on the task of creating a public restroom for the park – the first one built there in more than 30 years. The exterior is made up of Corton steel plates that vary in height and width. The plates coil around like a seashell, eventually forming the restroom walls.
The restroom’s door and roof are made of the same steel material, unifying the look and letting in natural light through the gaps in the plates. Because of the air that flows through the restroom and the sunlight that penetrates the spaces between the plates, the bathroom requires neither artificial light or ventilation.
Inside, a toilet, urinal, sink, and bench make up the restroom’s facilities. Outside of the door, a drinking fountain and shower allow runners and bikers to take a rest and cool off. The steel slats will become darker as they age, lending the structure the appearance of an ancient monument.