LocationOcean Beach, San Diego, CA, United States
Design ArchitectKevin de Freitas, Manish Desai
Architect of RecordSillman Wright Architects
General ContractorPRAVA Construction Service Inc.
Public ArtistShinpei Takeda
Text description provided by the architects. Host to nearly 1 million visitors annually, this public restroom transcends the typical purely utilitarian design. Invited by the owner, local residents actively participated in the process from beginning to end working to embed this exceptionally simple program with the values and character of the community; bohemian, artistic, and environmentally sensitive-all encapsulating the super laid back beach town vibe.
Taking cues from the neighborhood the building’s plan is skewed to mimic the unusual rotation of the street grid in OB. This was done by collapsing the opposite corners of an orthogonal rectangle. The effect, is a structure that is never experienced on a flat elevation; one always sees two sides at once.
The thin cantilevered roof floats off of the supporting walls, a direct reference to the Seagull in flight design of the ubiquitous OB decal plastered on cars all over the region. The “Ob” letters are branded into the ocean facing elevation so that visitor’s are reminded of where they are.
Acknowledging the community’s connection to, and fierce protection of, the natural environment, the restroom is an energy miser, 100% day lit and naturally ventilated. Night time illumination is produced by low power/long life LED fixtures and a 2.8 kW solar PV system generates all of the building’s modest energy needs, resulting in a Net-Zero project. Bike racks (local transport) and elevated seat walls facing the adjacent volleyball courts offer convenience and respite.
Reflecting Obecians’s eclectic, diverse, and artistic sensibilities the comfort station includes a dynamic large scale public art work that covers the entire roof, eave to eave. The work is composed of a series of circular rings of text that incorporate stories from the community’s history as well as current events overlaid on top on an abstracted image of a blue sky with clouds.
View the comfort station from a distance down Brighton Street at just the right time and you can actually witness the sun setting in the gap between the winged roof and the walls below like the magical green flash.