A Finnish huussi, or composting toilet, has been built in the centre of the country’s pavilion at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale, which aims at critically exploring the world’s unsustainable approach to sanitation.
Declaring the “death of the flushing toilet as we know it” the pavilion, called Huussi – Imagining the Future History of Sanitation, was designed by The Dry Collective – a group of architects, designers and artists, and curated by Arja Renell.
The Finnish Pavilion is called Huussi – Imagining the Future History of Sanitation
The project is a response to the theme of the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, The Laboratory of the Future, curated by Lesley Lokko and asking participants to consider what it means for architects to be “agents of change”.
Finland’s display begins with a mock archaeological excavation of a typical flushing toilet – responsible for 30 per cent of domestic water use in developed economies – in the grounds of the Alvar Aalto-designed pavilion, symbolically consigning it to the distant past.
It explores the world’s unsustainable approach to sanitation
“We cannot live on a planet where billions of people use rapidly diminishing fresh water resources to flush their waste,” said curator Arja Renell.
“The whole system needs to change,” she continued. “A shift will come as we begin to see our waste as a valuable resource, and transition to treating it as such.”
The pavilion features a composting toilet
Inside the pavilion, a cross-laminated timber (CLT) structure contains a domestic-scale huussi, surrounded by wooden planters that have been fertilised using human urine-based fertiliser.
While the huussi toilet cannot be used by visitors during the biennale, it will afterwards be donated to VERAS, a local non-profit organisation that owns an agricultural part and allotments on the nearby Venetian island of Vignole.
Woodio develops toilet made from wood chips
Accompanying the huussi is a fictional documentary film set in the year 2043 demonstrating the “absurdity” of our current attitude to sanitation and waste, along with other video works presenting information about alternative sanitation solutions.
“We want to share the domesticity and utility of the Finnish huussi to inspire a dialogue about the state of what is possible… what considerations become critical, and how will solutions vary in different parts of the world?” said Renell.
“Huussi inspires and invites all professionals to start looking for alternative solutions which would better serve the world we inhabit today,” she continued.
Accompanying the huussi is a fictional documentary film
The Finnish Pavilion is one of several that will be opened exclusively on Dezeen during the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023. Other pavilions that were seen first on Dezeen include the Danish pavilion, which focuses on rising Sea levels and the US pavilion that aims to question plastic dependency.
The photography is by Ugo Carmeni.
Dezeen is live reporting from the Venice Architecture Biennale, which takes place from 20 May to 26 November 2023. See Dezeen Events Guide for all the latest information you need to know to attend the event, as well as a list of other architecture and design events taking place around the world.