When Yorkshireman Thomas Crapper popularized the modern flush toilet in the mid-19th century, he did not, in all likelihood, see his handiwork as a seat of quiet contemplation. But Lucas Boyd, a Carleton architecture student, does. The humble toilet sits at the centre of an exercise in “imagineering”—a process of imagination and engineering—that Boyd calls the Bathroom Pavilion.
It was part of a class exercise that focused on the arboretum area of Ottawa’s Central Experimental Farm. Winter and summer, the arboretum is a popular spot with adults and children sitting and strolling, sliding and rolling, and occasionally in need of a loo.
“What I wanted to do was juxtapose the super-public with the super-private,” Boyd says, “because in our culture, going to the bathroom is pretty much the most private thing you can do.”
So he created a maquette of a roofless structure complete with fireplace. Needy patrons, drawn by the sounds of streaming water amplified by the horn shape of the entrance and by the concrete walls within, can descend to its lowest point. There, temporarily insulated from the human bustle outside by the sounds of running water, they can sit under a canopy of translucent glass on the site’s solitary toilet and ponder the universe in private.
“For me, it’s about transforming a totally mundane experience into a moment of reflective thought,” Boyd says. “Maybe they’ll think of some great ideas in there. Maybe they’ll find God.”