Meandering through Santa Monica’s Tongva Park, designed by James Corner Field Operations, offers moments of serenity and pause, one of which opens into a wide passage connecting one path to another under landscape hills.
The openness of Tongva Park’s restroom was not intended to make a political statement, rather, it was an attempt to integrate the facility more fluidly into its surrounding landscape. FF&P was a design consultant to James Corner Field Operations for Tongva Park’s public restroom design.
At a time when the traditionally private act of visiting the restroom has become part of a decidedly public policy debate, each of this project explores the spatial opportunities of single stall restrooms as an alternative to conventional gender-designated, multi-user rooms. In keeping with the core values of FF&P, the comfort station’s architecture makes little distinction between indoor and outdoor living.
Individual toilet compartments and communal sink areas are open to nature on three sides – including a large, square opening to the sky above. Natural light illuminates the restroom from multiple directions, avoiding the “flashlight effect” when one directional light source creates an atmosphere of high-contrast light and shadow. The space’s porosity also takes advantage of its location one block from the Pacific Ocean, enabling the coastal breeze to provide continuous natural ventilation – a challenge for designers.
Locals come here to relax on the lawns, jog through the park, sit quietly beside the refreshing fountain, or take their kids to the playground and splashpad. It’s unusually quiet, and a wonderful oasis from the bustling streets of Santa Monica.