The Clever Reason Portland's Public Toilets Offer Little Privacy

Courtesy of the Portland Loo
Courtesy of the Portland Loo

What would it take to design a public toilet that doesn't devolve into a den of drugs, graffiti, and a parade of people who relieve themselves on the floor? That was the challenge facing the city of Portland, Oregon back in 2006, when city commissioner Randy Leonard decided to install sidewalk restrooms that would meet the population's need for relief without becoming a blight on the area.

Their solution was the Portland Loo. And more than a decade after the first Loo was installed, it's demonstrably one of the best approaches to providing facilities that remain clean and free from squalor.

Built by Madden Fabrication, the Loo addresses several of the most common issues facing restrooms open to citizens at large. Nothing about the design invites users to linger inside any longer than they need to in order to conduct their business. That's apparent as soon as you walk into the Loo and find a toilet but no sink. The absence of the latter is to prevent people from performing activities like washing clothes or grooming. (There's no mirror, either.) The only way to clean your hands is to use a spigot mounted on the exterior.

A look at the interior of the Portland Loo
Courtesy of the Portland Loo

The Loo also does away with any sense of privacy. Bars on the top and bottom allow passing police to make sure people are adhering to the single-occupancy mandate and not cavorting. The bars also allow sound to carry. If you're inside, you won't really feel removed from the sidewalk or the passing pedestrians, and it's not likely you'll be relaxed enough to do much more than what nature requires.

In order to discourage drug use, the Loo uses a blue light that makes it difficult to locate veins for intravenous injections.

Vandals won't have much to do with the Loo, either. The coated stainless-steel surface resists spray paint and other markings.

The Loo has migrated to other locations around the country, including Cambridge, Massachusetts; Galveston, Texas; and Hoboken, New Jersey. Loos have also made it to Australia. The prefabricated units can run $100,000, with installation and maintenance costs extra. Later this year, Austin, Texas is set to debut two Loos sourced from Portland. The city plans to dub them the Waterloos.

[h/t CityLab]

The New iPhone 11 Is Triggering People With Trypophobia

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

People with trypophobia, or a fear of clusters of small holes, know which triggers to avoid. Soap bubbles, lotus seed pods, and the insides of cantaloupes can all induce panic and revulsion in people who are sensitive to the pattern. Now, they have a new item to add to their list. As Gizmodo points out, the new iPhone has a design feature that's turning off trypophobes.

Apple debuted the iPhone 11 at an event on September 10 ahead of its release on September 20. This latest model comes with many upgrades, including a super-powered processor and longer battery life, but the biggest change has been met with a mixed reception.

The iPhone 11 Pro has three camera lenses where there would normally be one. People who prefer Apple's sleek, minimalist style have criticized the design, while those with trypophobia have had even stronger reactions. Some scientists think the fear of clusters of holes originally developed as a survival mechanism to steer people away from infectious diseases. When someone gets nauseous at the sight of three cameras grouped on the back of a smart phone, it's because it reminds them of decaying flesh.

Presentation launching iPhone 11.
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

The iPhone likely looks the way it does today thanks to another highly specific fear that afflicted Steve Jobs. The Apple founder suffered from koumpounophobia, or a fear of buttons—an incredibly rare phobia that's only been documented once in all of psychiatric literature. His fear may have lead to the popularization of the smooth, buttonless touch screen. It also explains why the tech giant preferred black turtlenecks to button-down shirts.

Though similar to trypophobia, a fear of buttons and fear of clusters of circles aren't quite the same thing. So while triggering to many, the updated iPhone doesn't necessarily conflict with Jobs's original design aesthetic.

[h/t Gizmodo]

The Reason Why Ships Are Often Painted Red on the Bottom

75tiks/iStock via Getty Images
75tiks/iStock via Getty Images

If you’ve ever salvaged a sea vessel, you might have noticed that ship hulls are often red. If you haven’t dealt with a shipwreck—and chances are you haven’t—you may have still seen a red hull in pictures or in partial view at a shipyard. Since that portion of the ship is below the waterline, it seems strange to opt for a specific color.

The reason is tradition. And worms.

In a piece for Jalopnik, Andrew P. Collins explains that early sailing ships protected themselves against barnacles and wood-eating worms by covering their hulls in a copper or copper oxide paint that acted as a biocide. The copper gave the paint a red tint. By reducing the muck that naturally collects on the hull, ships can maintain their structural integrity and avoid being weighed down by gunk like seaweed that would reduce drag.

These days, biocides can be mixed with virtually any color of paint. But the hulls are often painted red to maintain a nautical tradition. Collins also points out that the red may help observers gauge the load of a ship’s cargo. The more weight on board, the lower in the water it will be. That's why you often see numbers positioned vertically on the side of the hull.

No matter what’s covering the hull, it’s never going to completely eliminate growth. Often, ports will prohibit ship owners from scraping hulls while docked, since ships traveling in outside waters might have picked up a non-native species of weed that could prove problematic in a new environment.

[h/t Jalopnik]

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