Spotlight on New Zealand: Hundertwasser’s Toilet


It’s a long way to go just for a toilet but those who make the trip are not disappointed.

Located four hours north of Auckland, in the small town of Kawakawa, is the possibly one of the most outlandish public toilets in New Zealand, and maybe even in the world.

Featuring cobblestone flooring, mosaic tiling and brightly colored ceramic columns supporting an arched portico covered with tuffs of native grass, these toilets are not your ordinary, run of the mill public toilets.

They’re the work of renowned Austrian architect and artist Friendenreich Hundertwasser, best known for Vienna’s colorful thermal power plant and Napa Valley’s Quixote winery.

But in between traveling the world, creating innovative and colorful architectural works of art, he could be found living a quite and unassuming life in Kawakawa.

Hundertwasser had originally come to New Zealand in the 1970s for an exhibition of his art. But he took a liking to New Zealand and decided to put down roots here, buying property on the Waikare inlet just east of Kawakawa.

When the Kawakawa Community Board decided to upgrade the public toilet facilities in the 1990s, Hundertwasser not only provided the design but also supervised construction.

Alongside ceramic tiles, recycled glass bottles were used to create colorful windows and bricks from a former Bank of New Zealand were used to create a cobblestone floor.

The only known Hundertwasser structure in the Southern Hemisphere, the toilets were his gift to the small town where he was free to wander anonymously.

They were also his last major architectural work as Hundertwasser died in February 2000.

Today, the toilets attract Hundertwasser devotees from around the world and have put Kawakawa firmly onto the tourist track.

(photo by Ang Wickham via flickr)

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