Futuristic New Street Toilets Are Coming to San Francisco

SmithGroupJJR
SmithGroupJJR

San Francisco’s streets are getting shiny new additions: futuristic-looking public toilets. Co.Design reports that San Francisco’s Department of Public Works has chosen a new design for self-cleaning street toilets by the architectural firm SmithGroupJJR that will eventually replace the city’s current public toilets.

The design is a stark contrast to the current San Francisco toilet aesthetic, a green knockoff of Paris’s Sanisettes. (They’re made by the same company that pioneered the Parisian version, JCDecaux.) The tall, curvy silver pods, called AmeniTREES, are topped with green roof gardens designed to collect rainwater that can then be used to flush the toilets and clean the kiosks themselves. They come in several different variations, including a single or double bathroom unit, one with benches, a street kiosk that can be used for retail or information services, and a design that can be topped by a tree. The pavilions also have room for exterior advertising.

Renderings of the silver pod bathrooms from the side and the top
SmithGroupJJR

“The design blends sculpture with technology in a way that conceptually, and literally, reflects San Francisco’s unique neighborhoods,” the firm’s design principal, Bill Katz, explained in a press statement. “Together, the varied kiosks and public toilets design will also tell a sustainability story through water re-use and native landscapes.”

San Francisco has a major street-poop problem, in part due to its large homeless population. The city has the second biggest homeless population in the country, behind New York City, and data collected in 2017 shows that the city has around 7500 people living on its streets. Though the city started rolling out sidewalk commodes in 1996, it doesn’t have nearly enough public toilets to match demand. There are only 28 public toilets across the city right now, according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

These designs aren’t ready to go straight into construction first—the designers have to work with JCDeaux, which installs the city’s toilets, to adapt them “to the realities of construction and maintenance,” as the Chronicle puts it. Then, those plans will have to be submitted to the city’s arts commission and historic preservation commission before they can be installed.

[h/t Co.Design]

Ohio Company’s Glow-in-the-Dark Gear Makes Firefighters Safer on the Job

iStock/gorodenkoff
iStock/gorodenkoff

Firefighting tools are designed to keep users safe from flames, smoke, and falling debris—but heavy-duty gear won't help them navigate a burning building when the power fails. Zachary Green, a volunteer firefighter and former Marine Corps infantryman, came up with a way to illuminate rescuers' paths using glow-in-the-dark technology, as Cincinnati's WCPO reports.

The innovative safety tools manufactured by Green's Ohio-based company MN8 LumAware utilize maintenance-free phosphorescent light. Phosphorescent materials don't require batteries, light bulbs, or electricity, and they charge themselves when they're exposed to ambient light throughout the day. That means if a blaze or some other accident causes power in a building to fail, phosphorescent objects can act as potentially life-saving light sources.

One of the first products Green invented was a phosphorescent helmet band that makes firefighter helmets visible in the dark. Today, MN8 LumAware sells glow-in-the-dark exit signs, stairwell labels, floor arrows, and tape for illuminating handrails, doorways, and floors. The products are not only useful for occupants, but also for emergency responders who need to get in and out of buildings in a hurry.

In 2019, MN8 LumAware received the presidential “E” award from the Department of Commerce for showing an impressive increase in exports over a four-year period.

[h/t WCPO]

World’s Tiniest McDonald’s Opens in Sweden, Welcomes Bees as Customers

iStock/William Jones-Warner
iStock/William Jones-Warner

McDonald's has opened stores in an old train car, an airplane, and an oversized Happy Meal box. This new project from the corporation has many of the features of a regular restaurant—down to the posters advertising special menu items—but it's different in a major way. Instead of catering to human clientele, this miniature McDonald's is designed to attract bees.

McDonald's Sweden collaborated with the creative agency NORD DDB to build the branded beehive for World Bee Day on May 20, AdWeek reports. From the outside, the model is a replica of a McDonald's restaurant, with drive-thru windows, outdoor seating, and the golden arches presiding above it all. But instead of a counter and a tables, the interior is filled with frames where bees can build their wax. It's being billed as "the world's smallest McDonald's," but according to NORD DDB, it's still big enough to house thousands of bees.

The fast-food beehive is a nod to an initiative gaining traction at McDonald's in Sweden. Some McDonald's restaurants have installed beehives on their roofs and started replacing the grass on their properties with flowers to attract the pollinators. Global bee populations have declined at alarming rates in recent years due to pesticides, disease, and climate change, and the beehive project from McDonald's Sweden is just one creative way people are trying to give bees a boost.

This particular beehive won't be housed above a burger joint. On May 21, it was auctioned off to raise money for the Ronald McDonald House.

[h/t AdWeek]

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