To Pissoir, or Not To Pissoir: Open-Air Urinals in Paris

by John Harper

Paris is a city of great liberty. Open air dining, wine in the park, free love and peeing in public all have their romantic Parisian setting. The city’s latest installation of open urinals are causing a bit of a rouse, though.

Paris’ new Pissoirs are bright red boxes, you see. Designed to attract the attention of an otherwise errant urinator, the new boxes are upsetting some residents in historic neighborhoods, per CNN.

Video footage captured by the American news agency shows crusty-bearded, stained-shirt men unzipping on Paris streets. One so-called “Uritrottoir” sports a view of the Notre Dame cathedral.

Public urinals Faltazi Paris pissoir uritrottoir

The offending device. Image by design company Faltazi

Public urinals are nothing new in Paris or Europe. The city previously installed public urinals, called pissoirs, as far back as the 19th century. It’s not the concept of the new urinals that seems bothersome to most here, though. It’s the design.

“There’s no need to put something so immodest and ugly in such an historic spot,” one art store owner told London’s Guardian newspaper.

Another local resident said the design and color of the boxes were “unacceptable.”

“I think installing a urinal in the streets of Paris for those who don’t respect their surroundings is a good idea, but in my opinion, this model is not attractive at all,” said one interviewee, per KTLA TV in Los Angeles.

Parisian Mayor Ariel Weil was moved to impose on Twitter (roughly assisted by Google Translate):

The question of the specific site is to decide with the inhabitants but the device, imagined by the inventor Nantes @lebot, made in France, ecological, tested with success in Nantes, which recommends a battery, and even in #paris since months remains an invention of genius!

The boxes contain straw designed to minimize odor and derive compost nutrients from the golden streams, The Guardian reports.

Strangely, outrage experienced some form of hangfire over the issue.

The “Uritrottoirs” were installed before February 2017, according to a report from that month in Fast Company magazine.



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