Applications and Reflow 3D print luxurious loo from upcycled plastics

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Social enterprise has worked with Dutch filament developer Reflow to 3D print a uniquely-lavish portable toilet from recycled plastics in the Swiss Alps. 

Built from Reflow-upcycled medical waste using an ABB 3D printer, the portable lavatory is designed to highlight the lack of sanitation available to those living in remote areas. Featuring the body, door and waste retrieval system you’d expect to find on a toilet, the fittingly-named ‘Throne’ has not just been built as a showpiece, but is now open for all to relieve themselves at the site on which it was constructed.

“A public toilet is a public toilet,” explained Co-founder and CEO Nachson Mimran. “If our team at the construction site enjoyed this moment, as much as I enjoyed testing it, they would probably be in a better mood to perform the work that they do.”'s 3D printed portaloo on-site in Switzerland.’s 3D printed toilet on-site in Switzerland. Image via Wallpaper.

Inspiration for an upcycled loo 

Formed by a team of self-styled social and eco-justice warriors, the Foundation works to fund and grow grassroots initiatives that both support vulnerable people, and protect the Earth from global warming. In an effort to reach this goal, the firm has often invested in start-ups like plant-based meat substitute manufacturer Beyond Meat, as well as unique infrastructure projects in Africa.

As part of one such initiative, the organization has sought to establish a ‘Great Green Wall’ in Senegal, by planting some 65,000 food-bearing trees across its impoverished region of Sahal. During 2019, also built a so-called ‘Bottle Brick Toilet’ from 13,000 upcycled bottles in Uganda, which went on to serve as a blueprint for further lavatories in the country, and ultimately inspiration for the Throne as well. 

The enterprise’s latest latrine is said to have been dreamt up when Mimran met designer Jímenez Garcia of Spanish studio Nagami at an event in London, where they came up with the concept of 3D printing an igloo-like creative space for locals to exchange ideas in, that would require its own portable toilet.

However, when Mimran arrived at the site where these would be built, he found the toilet facilities deeply uninspiring, thus he and Garcia have since set out to develop a luxurious new bog that can be deployed in remote areas when nature calls. 

“It was last October when we broke ground here on a new project,” says Mimran. “As I arrived on the construction site, I needed the loo and walked into one of the portable toilets that we’re used to seeing in these types of places. I didn’t enjoy my few minutes in this cubicle, and came out wondering if we could do something different.”

The 3D printed Throne's built-in skylight.
The 3D printed Throne features a built-in skylight. Image via Wallpaper.

3D printing a swanky carsey 

Although’s clamshell-like social spaces remain under construction, it has already been able to construct a large-format loo in close proximity to the site they’re set to be built on. Erected using a seven-axis robotic 3D printer in the space of just three days, the carsey has a futuristic almost rocket-like appearance thanks to its pristine white coating, which also lends it a comfortingly familiar aesthetic. 

Elsewhere, the structure is large enough to accomodate an almond-shaped sliding door that provides a sense of occasion for those ascending to the Throne, while its in-built skylight will no doubt provide the luxurious experience Mimran was looking for, and its waste separation and integrated wood chips are designed to prevent this being spoiled by foul odours. 

Although the enterprise’s lavatory has arguably fulfilled its purpose in that it has been put into commission, and attracted the attention of both locals and designers, it isn’t stackable and therefore isn’t scalable. Additionally, Mimran has reportedly admitted that the Throne would be difficult to replicate in Africa, but he still hopes his hillside toilet will raise 3D printing’s profile as a global sanitation solution. 

“We believe that this technology needs to go through the same kind of processes as photovoltaics went through,” concluded Mimran. “Hopefully, we will be able to bring together a coalition to drive down the costs of distributed digital manufacturing, so it’s not only in the hands of privileged creatives and designers, but also with those who are designing essential and vital objects for their survival.” co-founder and CEO Nachson Mimran inside The Throne. CEO Nachson Mimran (pictured) hopes the Throne starts a conversation about global sanitation. Image via Wallpaper.

AM’s accessible lavatories 

Surprisingly, the Throne isn’t the first toilet of its kind to be developed with accessibility in mind, as 3D printing has been experimented with many times as a means of making clean sanitation available to all. In 2019, Singapore-based architecture studio SPARK unveiled its ‘Big Arse Toilet,’ a lightweight 3D printed module that can be deployed via drone on-demand. 

Likewise, Construction firm Hamilton Labs has deployed its robotic technologies alongside Singapore’s National Additive Manufacturing Innovation Cluster (NAMIC) to 3D print toilets in Northern India. Built from recycled fly ash, the lavatories were reportedly designed to bring “fast, beautiful and comfortable” carseys to those in India’s Madhubani district. 

Much like, the National Tourism Administration of China has also adopted 3D printing with the aim of building luxurious eco-friendly toilets in Suzhou Yangshan’s ‘Scenic Area.’ Said to be inspired by mother nature, the public lavatories feature interconnected ginkgo leaf canopies, which allow them to blend into the environment around them. 

UPDATE: This article initially included several references to the term ‘Portaloo.’ Having been contacted by the good people of Portakabin, who have kindly pointed out that they have trademarked the term in the UK, we’ve seen the errors of our ways and removed the phrase from the story altogether.

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Featured image shows’s 3D printed toilet on-site in Switzerland. Image via Wallpaper.