Paris Planters Make Public Peeing a Public Service

The Uritrottoir creates compost from wood chips and whiz. 

Two Uritrottoirs have been installed outside the Gare de Lyon. (Photo by AINo) 

This is your first of three free stories this month. Become a free or sustaining member to read unlimited articles, webinars and ebooks.

Become A Member

It’s a stinky urban problem known in Paris as “les pipis sauvages.” As The Guardian reports, it’s the “time-honoured if technically prohibited practice of urinating in the street.”

Now, however, the city has a sweet-smelling solution: the Uritrottoir, which is essentially a sidewalk urinal topped with a fragrant mini-garden. When nature calls, a Parisian may simply approach one of the large boxes with an opening in front and relieve themselves — with some lovely plants at eye level. Their urine will trickle into a bin full of dry straw, sawdust or wood chips. After a time, the mixture will be collected for compost, according to the Guardian.

“It’s a circular economy. We’re re-using two waste products, straw and urine, to make something that makes plants grow,” Laurent Lebot, who designed the Uritrottoir with colleague Victor Massip from the firm Faltazi, told the paper.

So far, only two of the pretty urinals have been installed as part of a trial run. Both are outside the Gare de Lyon railway station, a spot that sees more than its fair share of public urination. Each costs about 3,000 euros (about $3,200 U.S.). Three more are on trial in Nantes, France, the designers’ hometown.

They’re certainly a gentler public-pee solution than the one instituted in San Francisco in 2015. Following the lead of Hamburg, Germany, the city’s public works department coated nine walls with Ultra Ever-Dry, a paint that repels liquids, resulting in, yes, splashback.

Like what you’re reading? Get a browser notification whenever we post a new story. You’re signed-up for browser notifications of new stories. No longer want to be notified? Unsubscribe.

Rachel Dovey is an award-winning freelance writer and former USC Annenberg fellow living at the northern tip of California’s Bay Area. She writes about infrastructure, water and climate change and has been published by Bust, Wired, Paste, SF Weekly, the East Bay Express and the North Bay Bohemian

Follow Rachel .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Tags: urban designsustainable citiesparis

Next City App Never Miss A StoryDownload our app ×

You've reached your monthly limit of three free stories.

This is not a paywall. Become a free or sustaining member to continue reading.

  • Read unlimited stories each month
  • Our email newsletter
  • Webinars and ebooks in one click
  • Our Solutions of the Year magazine
  • Support solutions journalism and preserve access to all readers who work to liberate cities

Join 1110 other sustainers such as:

  • Anonymous at $25/Year
  • Alison at $60/Year
  • Anonymous at $10/Month

Already a member? Log in here. U.S. donations are tax-deductible minus the value of thank-you gifts. Questions? Learn more about our membership options.

or pay by credit card:

All members are automatically signed-up to our email newsletter. You can unsubscribe with one-click at any time.

  • Donate $20 or $5/Month

    20th Anniversary Solutions of the Year magazine

has donated ! Thank you 🎉