I’ve been meaning to visit Matakana for a while. Not because I’m intensely cool and need to buy artisanal small goods from the Farmers Market, nor because I have completed my 20th contract killing and can finally afford a home on the extreme Auckland fringe. Other than odd-coloured organic vege and handmade goat cheese infused free range eggs, what is the only other thing people associate with Matakana? Their fancy surrealist toilet.
Like Kawakawa before them, this teensy hamlet decided to let some arty nut jobs grasp the reigns and hoped they would shit out a winner.
But unlike the Hundertwasser loos, the Matakana facilities are actually attractive (sorry, don’t hate me but I just fucking hate abstract surrealism. It makes me feel nauseated).
Because I am a first class researcher, with genuine professional citation standards, I looked on Wikipedia and found out that the Matakana bathrooms took 7 years to complete and were the outcome of a design competition won by a local guy, in his first year at Elam Art School. The body of the toilets represent the bows of local fishing vessels in a nod to their oceanic heritage, but who really knows about the disembodied bisected heads. A nod to downing a couple tabs of acid and a handful of laxatives simultaneously and hoping for the best? I could make up some art wank, but why bother when there are toilets to review.
I like concrete, and I like shapes sprayed with concrete, so these fulfill my Playschool level need for geometric eccentricities.
They have pride of place at the juncture where the high street leads out of town. They sit like Ned Stark’s head atop it’s spike on the walls of King’s Landing.
The bathrooms back on to a very pretty wee park, with a stream and play areas etc.
There are two stalls, both of which are disabled access and unisex. The gendered signs have been hand crafted by a local artist. I’m not sure who did them but they are very cute and cartoon like. Sadly, other people liked them a little too much. In fact enough to pry them from the toilet door and nick off with them. That is cunty because now the rest of us don’t get to enjoy them. I really fucking hate people like this, with no sense of community. Selfish pricks. I hope they get a really bad sunburn and it hurts to sleep so they get very tired and do badly in an important job meeting.
The exterior doors of the toilet have been heavily graffiti’d by scratching into the Macrocapa.
Now, I’m not a fan of most graffiti as much as I’m not a fan of defacing public structures, but I don’t feel like these scratches take away from the bathroom’s overall charm. In some ways they are quite nice, if only they were less “tag-y” and more social like the scratched glass panes at The Red House built by William Morris.
Inside the floors and one wall are mosaiced in orange stone or rock, maybe it’s pottery left overs, either way I like that it’s different but I stand by my opinion that almost all chunky modern mosaic is fucking ugly. It’s a terrible old lady craft made out of left over trash. I have seen exceptions to this general rule in the National Museum of Naples, but those were fine, detailed pieces of art, not left over scraps glued together like a prisoners art project and mailed to their pen-pal bride.
It was very difficult to get a quick subtle picture of the inside of these toilets as the doors weigh a fucking ton and the second they close it is dark as the arsehole of Satan in there.
While I was inside the first stall, a woman came over to partake of the facilities for their intended use (I’m guessing). She asked if I was actually “using” the toilet, which I wasn’t, I was standing there like a twat with her phone out. So I scurried over to photograph the other stall and get more detailed images. Unfortunately, the lock on the first bathroom was broken so she came over to mine, leaving me with no time to get better pictures inside the bathroom proper. If I were a normal human I would have just asked her to wait a second but I’m a massive pussy and just scuttled off apologising as I went.
Cleanliness : 7/ 10 The toilets weren’t dirty but they didn’t look great on the inside either. A little worn and less well looked after than I would have thought. No worse than a regular public loo so I guess being an art piece doesn’t make you special in the eyes of the Auckland council cleaning crews.
Interior : 7/10 The inside was just fine. They had sinks and toilet paper, though the paper was not in the paper holders because they were way too far away from the toilet bowl due to the hand rails getting in the way. Not so good in the ol’ design sense when it came to practical application. Honestly, I don’t think that two toilets would be enough for a busy day and I can’t imagine how long the line would get on a Saturday morning. Luckily, we were there on an ordinary week day during the school holidays so I had no issue beyond the lady who needed to pee. From the inside the wooden doors are very pretty, but other than the doors, handles and the stained glass window above, all the hardware is standard public loo grade so nothing special.
Exterior : 7/10 The view is nice behind the bathroom and there is parking down the hill to the left, but again not much parking when it is busy. It isn’t private so if I was panicking it wouldn’t be a great place to go. Every other dickhead in a 100 meters could see me coming out and I’m guessing there would be a lot of angry door knockers, which makes me panic even more.
Safety : 8/10 The exposed nature of the loos means that they have almost no hidden areas. I wouldn’t be worried about using these bathrooms even at night. There is a pub with tables and such outside right across the road so plenty of eyes to avoid a mugging from some curly mustachioed dude whose get away car is a well greased penny farthing.
Snugglitude : 7/10 This is a very close seven, nearly a six if I’m honest. I love art and the idea of making public toilets more creative, but when the Aart comes at the expense of good practical design it raises issues. Having been to art school, I get the need to spray concept wank over all practicality, but because my degree was in design rather than fine arts, I feel like the dude who designed these should have focused more on the practical aspects of a bathroom which would work for more people. All points given for the small touches of craftsmanship, like the toilet signs, wood work and the lovely brass door handles. Points taken away again for the use of boring standard toilet, sink, paper and soap dispensers. For the massive price these loos cost, I feel like they could have done a bit better with the actual toilet set.
Total : 36/50