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This Portuguese Cemetery's Most Picturesque Feature May Be Its Bathroom

Cemeteries aren't usually known for their bathrooms. Understandably, the architecture of graveyards is typically more focused on the people buried there. But mourners still need facilities, and it would be nice if they weren't disgusting. People may expect to catch a whiff of a ghostly presence in a cemetery, but they certainly don't want to catch a whiff of anything else.

As Dezeen spotted, a Portuguese graveyard just got a new public bathroom that should be the gold (or maybe green) standard for cemetery lavatories. Designed by the local architects at M2.Senos, the cemetery project in Ílhavo, Portugal is literally called "Where Is the Toilet, Please?"

An aerial view of the graveyard

A view looking up from the atrium of the bathroom

A view of the bathroom entrance through other structures in the graveyard

The architects redesigned the structure, which also holds an office for the cemetery’s support staff, to be smaller and less obtrusive than its predecessor. The green tile that lines the whole facade and roof is meant to help it blend more naturally into its surroundings, including both the cemetery and the church associated with it.

Everything about the boxy, geometric design is made to feel like an extension of the rest of the property. The floors are made with the same Portuguese pavement that the sidewalks around it are so that it barely feels like a closed building at all. The marble sinks are designed to mirror the gravestones outside, and the whole building is lit by skylights. There is no exterior door to the atrium that houses the men's and women's bathrooms. Instead, people walk into an open, cutout entranceway at the corner of the building that maintains the structure's unique geometric design.

Not bad for a public bathroom.

[h/t Dezeen]

All images by Nelson Garrido

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Ker Robertson, Getty Images
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architecture
5 Scrapped Designs for the World's Most Famous Buildings
Ker Robertson, Getty Images
Ker Robertson, Getty Images

When an architect gets commissioned to build a skyscraper or a memorial, they’re usually not the only applicant for the job. Other teams of designers submit their own ideas for how it should look, too, but these are eventually passed over in favor of the final design. This is the case for some of the world’s most recognizable landmarks—in an alternate world, the Arc de Triomphe might have been a three-story-tall elephant statue, and the Lincoln Memorial a step pyramid.

GoCompare, a comparison site for financial services, dug into these could-have-been designs for Alternate Architecture, an illustrated collection of scrapped designs for some of the most famous structures in the world, from Chicago's Tribune Tower to the Sydney Opera House.

Click through the interactive graphic below to explore rejected designs for all five landmarks.

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George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain
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Design
This 1907 Vision Test Was Designed for People of All Nationalities
George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain
George Mayerle, U.S. National Library of Medicine // Public Domain

At the turn of the 20th century, San Francisco was a diverse place. In fact, Angel Island Immigration Station, located on an island in the San Francisco Bay, was known as the “Ellis Island of the West,” processing some 300,000 people coming to the U.S. in the early 1900s. George Mayerle, a German optometrist working in the city at the time, encountered this diversity of languages and cultures every day in his practice. So in the 1890s, Mayerle created what was billed as “the only [eye] chart published that can be used by people of any nationality,” as The Public Domain Review alerts us.

Anticipating the difficulty immigrants, like those from China or Russia, would face when trying to read a vision test made solely with Roman letters for English-speaking readers, he designed a test that included multiple scripts. For his patients that were illiterate, he included symbols. It features two different styles of Roman scripts for English-speaking and European readers, and characters in Cyrillic, Hebrew, Japanese, and Chinese scripts as well as drawings of dogs, cats, and eyes designed to test the vision of children and others who couldn't read.

The chart, published in 1907 and measuring 22 inches by 28 inches, was double-sided, featuring black text on a white background on one side and white text on a black background on the other. According to Stephen P. Rice, an American studies professor at Ramapo College of New Jersey, there are other facets of the chart designed to test for a wide range of vision issues, including astigmatism and color vision.

As he explains in the 2012 history of the National Library of Medicine’s collections, Hidden Treasure [PDF], the worldly angle was partly a marketing strategy on Mayerle’s part. (He told fellow optometrists that the design “makes a good impression and convinces the patient of your professional expertness.”)

But that doesn’t make it a less valuable historical object. As Rice writes, “the ‘international’ chart is an artifact of an immigrant nation—produced by a German optician in a polyglot city where West met East (and which was then undergoing massive rebuilding after the 1906 earthquake)—and of a globalizing economy.”

These days, you probably won’t find a doctor who still uses Mayerle’s chart. But some century-old vision tests are still in use today. Shinobu Ishihara’s design for a visual test for colorblindness—those familiar circles filled with colored dots that form numbers in the center—were first sold internationally in 1917, and they remain the most popular way to identify deficiencies in color vision.

[h/t The Public Domain Review]

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