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Portable Toilets For Disaster Victims? Japanese Design To The Rescue!

Prompted by two major earthquakes that hit Japan in 2011 and 2016, award-winning Japanese design studio Nendo has come up with a portable toilet that can used by victims of natural disasters.

The earthquakes which hit eastern Japan in 2011 and the city of Kumamoto in 2016 highlighted the need to be in a state of readiness. While the major problems were obviously the seized-up transport system and the supply of food and electricity, the issue of access to toilets was greatly underestimated.

With this in mind, design studio Nendo headed by Oki Sato has come up with the “minimLET”, a kit containing all the necessary parts to construct a toilet.

The minimLET contains six parts – aluminium pipes, a toilet seat, a piece of nylon to make a tent, pocket handkerchiefs, bin bags, and a coagulant. As its name suggests, the kit takes up very little space.

Studio Nendo's minimalist portable toilet for disaster zones

A simple diagram shows the various ways in which the minimLET can be put together.

While many models of portable/disposable toilets have previously been designed and manufactured, the utilisation rate is relatively low. The main reasons are the size and the weight of the various parts, particularly the tent and the toilet seat.

Nendo decided to divide up all the parts as much as possible to ensure that they can be used in different situations. For example, the pipes can be used as supporting poles for the tent, or for the seat. Similarly, the piece of nylon can be used as a poncho. And the bag which contains the kit is impermeable and can be used as a 16-litre bucket.

The design studio also wanted other objects to become part of the kit, if required. For example, a plastic umbrella could become part of the structure of the tent, and steel cans or plastic bottles could be used as supporting poles for the toilet.

Studio Nendo has received many prizes and awards throughout its career. Its founder, Canada-born, Tokyo-based Sato was named 2016 Designer of the Year at the prestigious Maison and Objet trade show in Paris. – AFP Relaxnews

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