Lonely Planet Writer

Dutch museum takes quirky approach to street sanitation

Public urination gets a bad rep, but perhaps a new project in Amsterdam can help to change people’s perceptions. A project entitled When Nature Calls created by US-based Eddie Gandelman, uses urine to fertilise the city’s green spaces.

The model of what the public urinal fertilising system might look like
The model of what the public urinal fertilising system might look like Image by When Nature Calls

The idea inspired the Stichting Museum that houses Amsterdam’s most successful urban farm on its rooftop.

The Museum has placed public urinals on the outside of the building, with pipes that transport the urine in such a way so as to distribute it to the plants that form part of the rooftop farm.

Public urination put to use
Public urination put to use Image by When Nature Calls

When Nature Calls rather ingeniously uses filter pee as a fertilizer for plants, stressing that when filtered properly, urine contains the nutrients that are vital for plant growth.

The urinals used for fertilisation outside the Stichting Museum
The urinals used for fertilisation outside the Stichting Museum Image by Stichting Museum/Facebook

The peculiar looking urinals that are placed around the Stichting Museum are somewhat different to the ones designed by Gandelman and not as attractive. Gandelman created a harmonious design for the public urinals, which sees them located around new trees, in low and beautifully streamlined containers, effectively keeping the tree alive and the city green.

Maybe it’s a hard one to take, but it would certainly put to good use those public menaces who are always looking for dark street corners!