Posh public restrooms become new calling card for Shenzhen

Writer: Han Ximin  |  Editor: Zhang Chanwen  |  From: Original  |  Updated: 2024-03-04

A re online post by a woman surnamed Wang, who left Shenzhen for the Spring Festival holiday in her hometown, has garnered a warm response by netizens and triggered a discussion of what people miss the most about Shenzhen when they leave the city.

Wang said on her WeChat on Feb. 8 that Shenzhen is a very convenient city, which is why she loves it.

“There is always toilet paper in the restrooms.”

She said in her hometown there was no toilet paper in public restrooms. “You have to scan a QR code to pay for it, but, inconveniently, the app doesn’t work sometimes,” she said.

On the social media platform, many travelers, including those visiting the city, shared fond memories of Shenzhen’s public restrooms.

“Shenzhen’s public restrooms are clean. They have good ventilation, hand soap, and hand dryers. Some are air-conditioned. Some are equipped with showers. What is most important is that they have toilet paper,” said netizens praising the restrooms.

A woman, surnamed Li, from Heilongjiang Province, traveled to Shenzhen with her family for the Spring Festival. On Feb. 10, she went to Shenzhen Bay Park to birdwatch. She praised that the restroom in the park has many user-friendly details.

An exterior view of the public restroom in the Central Park in Futian District. Song Yingwen

‘Toilet revolution’

The praise generated by netizens is the result of the so-called “toilet revolution,” which started in 2017, requiring the city’s 4,500 public toilets to offer free toilet paper as per restroom management standards. To get different entities involved in the “revolution,” the city’s urban administration introduced monthly public restroom rankings based on the sanitation and environment of public restrooms across the city.

In a report released recently, the public restrooms of Shenzhen Metro were rated an A+ for 2023. There are a total of 427 public restrooms along the Metro rail in the city. Taking the newly opened Huangmugang Transport Hub as an example, its restrooms are conveniently located 3 meters away from the platform. The facilities are equipped with toilet paper and hand dryers, and they are also accessible to physically challenged people.

“I just retired last year and have more time to travel around now. The Metro service is very convenient, and the amenities in the restrooms are well thought-out,” a passenger, surnamed Hou, said in an interview.

The baby care room atop Lianhua Hill Park. Lin Songtao

The restroom facilities also include a family restroom, which is meant for families or anyone who needs extra privacy or extra time due to a disability.

According to the city’s urban administration, 1,428 of the city’s total 4,500 public restrooms, or 35.9%, has been equipped with a family restroom.

At the Bao’an International Airport, a total of 90 baby nursing rooms were installed with amenities for babies like diapers, dryers, and bottle warmers.

Tidal toilets

Long lines are often seen for women’s restrooms during holidays and in crowded public areas like parks, but not for men’s restrooms. To solve this demand problem, Shenzhen introduced an ingenious “tidal” restroom design.

The tidal design includes two partitioned toilet stalls, located between the men’s and women’s restrooms, that can be opened to one side of the facility depending on demand. This innovative design was recently added to the public restroom facilities in Xiaonanshan Park in Nanshan District to meet the ebb and flow of demand.

The handicap accessible restroom atop Lianhua Hill Park in Futian. Lin Songtao

“We designed the tidal restroom in November of last year and began using it two months ago,” said Qiu Lijian, public restroom manager of the park. Three such restrooms have been built in Xiaonanshan Park.

“When one side of the partition is open, the other is locked. It is useful for reducing wait times, especially on weekends and during holidays,” said Qiu. The demand-responsive tidal restroom design has gained widespread support from citizens, with many hoping more will be built.

A view of a public restroom in Huangmugang Transport Hub. Courtesy of Shenzhen Metro

Meanwhile, LED screens located at the entrance to many new restrooms in commercial centers and at the airport display information about waiting times and the number of available stalls, along with weather and air quality information. According to the urban administration, the city will improve the information service and intelligence of public restrooms.

A recent online post by a woman surnamed Wang, who left Shenzhen for the Spring Festival holiday in her hometown, has garnered a warm response by netizens and triggered a discussion of what people miss the most about Shenzhen when they leave the city.