Uritrottoir

Can these pee-pee planters solve the city’s public urination problem?

Ah, Paris! The City of Light…and pee. For all of its quaint cafés and grand boulevards, the French capital can’t seem to shake its public urination problem. Every day, sanitation workers scrub roughly 1,800 miles of pavement soiled by “les pipis sauvages,” aka “wild peeing,” according to The New York Times. But now there’s a stylish solution to this unsavory issue: the Uritrottoir.

A portmanteau of the French words for “urinal” and “sidewalk,” this sleek public pee station could easily be mistaken for a modern flower planter. Created by Laurent Lebot of the industrial design firm Faltazi, this stacked-box contraption is as easy on the environment as it is on the eyes.

The Uritrottoir works like this: The red box holds soil and plants and features a funnel for passers-by to whiz into. The pee drains down into the lower box, where it’s held in a bed of odor-absorbing straw.

Once 300–600 people have done their business into the Uritrottoir, an internet-connected sensor alerts a “urine attendant” that the device is full. This lucky lad or lady replaces the bottom box with fresh straw and takes the soiled material to a composting site outside the city. After a year, the resulting compost can be used to fertilize public parks and gardens, or even replenish the soil in the top half of the Uritrottoir flower box. Ashes to ashes, pee-pee to peonies.

To see these eco-friendly urinals in action, stop by Paris’ Gare de Lyon train station where two Uritrottoirs are currently being tested.

However they perform, this fresh-smelling solution is surely favorable to the city’s previous efforts to fight public urination: steep fines and an “incivility brigade” of 2,000 baton-wielding officers.