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Become privy to these privies: Austin’s modular public restroom

This Portland-made, free-to-use, stand-alone toilet is working to address common public bathroom concerns.

A grey, cylindrical facility on a sidewalk with a photo of a rose on the door and a "restroom" sign next to the door.

The loos can be wrapped in vinyl, made in a variety of colors, and display advertisements.

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The problem: A serious lack of public restrooms, even (and sometimes, especially) in the densest of US cities.

Enter: The Portland Loo, a modular, stand-alone, free toilet that lies somewhere between your traditional public restroom and a porta-potty.

Originating in Portland, OR (who could’ve guessed, huh?), the bathroom works to address common concerns surrounding public toilets in cities — such as cleanliness and upkeep — and can be found in locations across the US and Canada, including right here in our city.

What’s new about this loo?

  • Cleanliness | The coating of the bathrooms makes them particularly easy to clean, and all cleaning + maintenance supplies are located in a cabinet within the unit.
  • Price | While installation can be on the pricier side, the loo utilizes common components that are typically easy and cheaper to replace. Plus, each bathroom can be solar-powered, making it good for the earth and the city or organization’s wallet.
  • Aesthetic | The stainless steel paneling of the bathrooms features graffiti-proof coating, and the simple, sleek design fits in with most environments.
  • Safety | Created with input from Portland authorities, the bathroom was specifically designed for safety. Angled louvers (slats) in the walls allow for loud noises to escape while maintaining the occupant’s privacy.
  • Durability | The fixtures used are meant to be durable. If they do need to be replaced, they’re sourced from Portland rather than abroad, making the repair process quicker.
  • Ease of use | Hand washing stations are attached to the outside of the bathrooms, encouraging quick use to serve more bathroom-goers. Plus, each facility is ADA-accessible.

Where these latrines can be seen

  • Downtown, Trinity Street between 4th and 5th streets
  • Downtown, Brazos Street between 5th and 6th streets
  • Downtown, 716 E. 6th St.

Where else in Austin would you add a Portland Loo?