Monday, 12 November 2007

Toilet Trophies

I’ve traveled the world quite a bit and in various countries I’ve sometimes seen a toilet displaying a plaque proudly stating that it is a winner of some toilet award or other - from caravan parks in Australia to the Forbidden City in Beijing. I don’t know why this is particularly surprising. Public toilets must be among the most useful public buildings in any city and it makes sense that good ones should be acknowledged.

The Bathroom Diaries give an annual Golden Plunger to the best ‘bathroom’ in the world. This year’s winner is the toilets in Kawakawa, Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Designed by Austrian architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser the toilets are a monument to glass and curves.

This year, the British Toilet Association will be celebrating 20 years of Loos of the Year. Interest is clearly high in this prestigious event, with corporate sponsorship and a 33% increase in the number of entries received. There are several categories taking in the broad spectrum of facilities available and a section for attendants. The “Premier League” table pits local authorities against each other, with Highland the clear winner last year.

Toilets even have their own category at the UK Festival Awards – the winner this year was The Big Chill held at Eastnor Castle, Herts. Anyone who has been up to their ankles in mud and other people’s urine knows how important good festival toilets are!

All these awards are national or international affairs and while they bring a bit of glamour and excitement to the toilet world, I must say that all I really want from a toilet is a sensible layout and reasonable cleanliness. Perhaps we could all make a point of thanking councils simply when they get it right – not necessarily brilliantly white.

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