we're serious about piss!

Futures and Beyond + Colin Priest

Walking around parts of London on a Saturday morning, the sights and smells of the night before are all too evident. A slippery landscape of vomit, urine, blood and half-eaten food all to be jet-washed by someone - council, retailer, resident or anyone who cares to. Before the city becomes a quagmire and Boris Johnson's water cannon is deployed for an early shift, we propose an idea for an entrepreneurial opportunity - a new night hydration and sanitation unit.

Over the past few years, public conveniences have out of necessity become increasingly monetised to cover maintenance, operating like shops - where few operate 24 hours. Leaving folk caught short with no option but to use doorways and alleyways. Pissing in public is significant, in Hackney alone there were 800 fines for public urination over 2016 - that’s 15 fines per week! Spending £100,000 a year to then wash urine off walls and pavements. Multiply this across the 32 London Boroughs it averages out to a £3.2m problem - minimum!  

Somewhere between the generosity of Hare Krishna Food for Life trucks and the entrepreneurialism of Ice Cream Vans, we propose an incivility brigade of roaming converted ice vans to take to the streets and wage war on hang-overs and public urination. Alongside male and, female urinals, the Mobile Bowser Unit will offer a window to dispense free cold water and Kakigōri (shaved ice with syrups in a cone) and perhaps even a catchy musical tune (Once in a lifetime, Talking Heads comes to mind) to keep the night atmosphere going.

Housing a tap water reservoir (for Kakigōri and drinking) the Mobile Bowser Unit will also accommodate new kit akin to a Mr Whippy machine (apparently invented by Margaret Thatcher when she was an Oxford chemistry student). Utilising technology recently devised by Marjolein Vanoppen and Sebastiaan Derese at University of Ghent, collected urine will be processed into clean water and then ice for the urinals. So when patrons urinate on the cold ice, the ice melts and flushes away the urine. Stored in a built-in brown-ice reservoir, any brown-ice overflow will be 'deposited' onto the street when parked, cleaning the space as it melts. Similar to the informal road cleaning strategy in Paris, where hydrants are opened at the top of hills to run down and clear debris into the drains at the ,bottom. Taking advantage of the topography and existing infrastructures instead of retro-fit options like 'pee-bac'; coatings that undermine wall integrity or humiliation of 'bloo' port-a-urinals. 

The Mobile Bowser Unit is conceived as an entrepreneurial initiative bridging GLA, Borough, Licensee and 'Landlord' - subsidised by the city for the city. Harnessing growing social media success and popularity of street food markets, the Mobile Bowser unit visibly channels civic responsibility whilst tapping into the vibrant visual culture of London. The night economy is vital to a balanced and ueccentric city life - we wish for a fragrant sunrise.