Posted by: scribe9 | April 13, 2010

Very public art

Today Rick worked at a hospital north of here, in the fading little town of Kawakawa. It has a few tennis courts that obviously were important years ago; they even have referees’ chairs, but now they’re in sad shape. About the only new thing in town is a small grocery store, and the revamping of rooms in the only motel in town. The rooms still don’t have adequate lighting (although they have well-equipped kitchen areas, as all good New Zealand motels do), and they do not have fans or air-conditioning.  The motel is perched right over the highway junction that keeps the town going, so when one must open the window of the motel, one hears large trucks shifting gears to make it up into town, and unruly people yelling at each other in the park on the other side of the intersection.

The only real claim to fame is the public restrooms.  They were designed by Friendensreich Hundertwasser, an Austrian artist and architect who bought land nearby in the 1970s, and spent increasing amounts of time in the area. In the late 1990s, he became responsible for designing new restrooms in town. He clearly had no use for the International style–he didn’t like straight lines–and was concerned about the environment. He put grass on the roof and used lots of recycled bricks and bottles. I’m sorry about the labelling of the pictures below; for reasons unclear to me, the blog site won’t let me fix the layout.

Here’s the front:

A closer look at the columns:

Recycled paving:

The ladies’ side:

and the front and back of its screen:

Here’s an inside wall:

Here’s the back wall:

I’m not really a photojournalist, so this is all you’ll see of the men’s side:

A building across the street got in on the act:

Did you notice those tracks down the middle of the street? Trains are rare in New Zealand (it’s home to the southernmost train station in the world, but passenger trains don’t go there any longer), and particularly in Northland–Rick and I saw our first in Whangarei after being here more than five months. But we saw the train in Kawakawa the first time we went there.



  1. […] Hundertwasser, of Kawakawa toilets fame (see designed and painted a flag for the ship; […]

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