Tuesday, 13 April 2010

City Urinal as Art Object





At every turn in Groningen there is always something unusual to be seen whether it be a building and its façade, a statue of unusual proportions, a bridge or an artistic creation incorporated into city life. But none can be more unusual than the one found close to the canals edge along the Kleine der A. This rather unusual ‘art object’, is in the form of an urinoir and is not only decorative but also functional.

This point of relief was designed by the internationally acclaimed architect, Rem Koolhaas and decorated by the master photographer and artist extraordinaire, Erwin Olaf, both native Dutchmen. Its milky coloured glass is alive with black and blue duotone figures large and small. These figures seem to be taking part in a bohemian extravaganza, a re-occurring theme throughout Erwin Olaf’s work and in keeping with the lifestyle of the man himself.


Its creation came about to celebrate the cultural manifestation in Groningen ‘A Star is Born’ in 1996. A festival organized by the local Council, where the city became a stage for the entire summer and was filled with theatre, music and other cultural curiosa.

So if you are ever taken short whilst walking along the Kleine der A, it is possible to relieve oneself in this public toilet, although I would advise against it. For the more brave hearted of you who don’t want to listen to my warning and are determined to view it from the inside…a clothes peg for your nose is a must!   

First published in the Connections magazine #9 October 2005, 

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