Waiouru brutalism, less brutal than you’d think

Waiouru public toilets, exterior

It’s been a while since I posted a toilet, but fear not Dearest Reader. For I, MAGNIFICENT Lucy, have collected a number of bogs, loos and public conveniences whilst tutuing about the country on a summer holiday roady.

First up, due to popularity ascertained by number of Instagram likes (for that is how we judge the quality of something these days right? Not by distinction or integrity, but solely on the social media popularity of the object/person/food?) is the new-ish, visually arresting Waiouru public toilets, located on the central plateau.

Perhaps I should step back a little, to construct for you a mental picture: a place filled with such substantial beauty and imposing grandeur it would make an asphalt angel weep (hyperbole? for the loo, yes, but Tongariro – the mountain – is pretty breathtaking).

Or I could just post a photo…

View of Tongariro from Waiouru

Waiouru township is perhaps not the most “happening” of locales. A community built solely on the bare bones of the New Zealand Army base. The town, Army base and accompanying Army museum, exist on one of the most barren stretches of road in New Zealand, the aptly named Desert Road. Vast road side billboards warn of explosions from the ammunition testing site just off the road proper.

The new toilets have been built to compliment the 1978 design of the Queen Elizabeth II Army Memorial Museum. It is a big, fuck-off concrete fortress with it’s own bridge and moat. The building has a very austere, uncompromising style which has always kind of creeped me out. Too many conflicting feelings encompassing totalitarianism and fascist design, make my brain feel a bit gritty, like I’ve been roofied by a 1960’s turn-coat spy who is torturing me with minimalist art works and pebble-dash façades.

Waiouru Army Museum, exterior

Waiouru public toilets, exterior

Having admitted to my general dislike of the aforementioned aesthetic style, I will concede that the toilet’s external construction has managed to capture the architectural design of the museum buildings without scaring away the overtly artsy among us. No Donald Judd themed nightmares for me after I went for a wee here.

Waiouru public toilets, exterior

They have  a very concrete Transformer feel to them. Transformers Grandpa edition, solid and functional. Perhaps at night he transforms into a totally useless, trippy piece of 1960’s art, and likes to complain about ‘young people being noisy with their rap music and leaving a mess on my front lawn’.

Waiouru public toilets, signage from exterior

The signage made me smile. I like a pressed concrete slab, a bit of artisanal prettiness in the face of so much mass construction and artillery-driven style.

Waiouru public toilets, signage from exterior

The interior couldn’t be more at odds with it’s rugged exterior, looking like a knock off Americana style diner.

Waiouru public toilets, interior, sinks

Bright red and grey is a whole lot to pull off and it kind of manages it but in a way, feels a bit cheap at the same time.

Waiouru public toilets, interior, stalls

The newness allowed for the cheesy style interior but I fear it’s red linoleum and bubble tiles won’t age well toilet style wise (Yes, that’s a real thing. A thing I may have made up, but real all the same).

Waiouru public toilets, interior, sinks

This is the kind of bathroom that’s going to take a real beating each day. Main road, middle of shitass nowhere, cheap greasy take-away joint next door etc. You just know people will only stop here to grab a pot of deep fried wantons, stretch their legs, for truckers to take unholy dumps and babies to have their stinkiest nappies changed. The place is not going to be anyone’s community hub, put it that way. To me the interior needed to be more of a reflection of the exterior; reflecting the utilitarian nature of the town, the community and the surrounding landscape. They hit it just right with the exterior but fucked out on the interior with a bit of cheap “cheer”.

Waiouru public toilets, interior, hand dryers

Waiouru public toilets, interior, door with bag

Waiouru public toilets, interior, toilet

Waiouru public toilets, interior, sink


Cleanliness : 6.5/10  Let’s be fair, unless you get there the second the cleaner has finished, you will never get this place at 100% cleanliness. It’s always going to be a bit battered even in it’s new swanky state. The smell had a linger that can only be described as outhouse-esk and the amount of rubbish left by unscrupulous travellers was on show for all to see.

Interior : 5/10  You’ve got all the mod-cons; plenty of stalls, sinks, hand wash and new Dyson style dryers, and it didn’t feel like you were locked in a fascist holding cell (which it may have if they had over exploited the brutalist exterior aesthetic) but the over cheery red, and cheap looking tile choices do not make for a good industrial space (which is basically what it is, a functional and un-emotive space rather than a place you feel at ease or at home). With the addition of graffiti’d walls and daily wear and tear, this interior will go down hill very fast from cheery, to KFC toilet after the dinner rush.

Exterior : 9/10  No, I don’t like minimalism or brutalism in my personal life, but I can respect and admire the style when used well, and in an appropriate space, as this toilet exterior has. It accurately reflects the style of the National Army Museum across the road and sits comfortably within the rugged, unforgiving landscape in which it resides.

Safety : 7/10  The car park is right out front with a take-away stall next door. I didn’t feel worried using this loo but as ever perhaps not the best place to hang on your lonesome in the night time (*holding myself back from making a very inappropriate Jeremy Clarkson-esk joke about serial murdering truck drivers right now).

Snugglitude : 5/10  All points given for the exterior and the excellent representation of a distinct and sometimes hard to pull off design style. All points taken away for the cheesy, cheap looking interior and my fears of being murdered by a grubby singlet wearing, lonesome truck driver with Mummy issues and an inferiority complex.

Total :  32.5/50




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