Background: This spy-themed restaurant involves passwords, hidden rooms and disappearing ink—and the theme continues on into its bathroom. To enter, users must navigate through a series of complicated mazes and avoid a trick door.
Why It's Unique: "The bathrooms in restaurants are statement pieces," Balis says. Ever since Safe House opened in 1966, it has been using every aspect of the restaurant under its control to advance the secret-agent atmosphere. The harrowing journey to the bathroom serves as another adventurous addition, at least to those willing to endure a 15-minute sojourn from table to toilet
World's Largest Restroom
Location /// Chongqing, China
Background: With 1000 toilets, 32,290 square feet, and four stories, this bathroom is the largest in the world.
Why It's Unique: Located on Yangrenjie ("Foreigners Street"), China hopes that its colossal Egyptian-themed restroom will bring tourism to the city. Aside from its enormous size, the bathroom also features calm music, TVs and interestingly shaped urinals. Lu Xiaoqing, a tourism official, expects the bathrooms to be a hit among visitors: "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy."
Vertebrae Vertical Bathroom
Location /// Various
Background: Occupying a mere 4.3 square feet, this "Swiss Army Knife Bathroom" takes space conservation to a whole new level, packing a toilet, sink, cistern, two storage units and two shower heads into one compact system.
Why It's Unique: Named for its resemblance to the spinal cord, the bathroom's modules all connect to a central axis. Everything feeds from the top of the structure, which attaches to the ceiling. Users have the option of directing the waste pipes downward through a hole in the floor, or into the wall through a hole at the back of the toilet. To enable shower drainage, the Vertebrae must be installed in a sealed wet room with adequate slope to the floor, according to the brochure. "Real estate is priceless in the bathroom," says Judith Balis, an interior designer with experience constructing restrooms.
Location /// International Space Station
Background: With no gravity to ensure that water stays in the toilet bowl or to force waste down, NASA was forced to build pumps and harness airflow to create an effective and hygienic bathroom for astronauts.
Why It's Unique: Because the entire system relies on air, creating a tight seal between the user and the toilet bowl is essential. Foot straps and pivoting bars anchor the astronauts to the ground, and an intricate network of tubes, pipes and ducts handles the waste. Far removed from water treatment plants, the ISS must treat waste on its own and actually converts a large percentage into potable water. A hose-suction option is also available in lieu of the main toilet bowl.
Location /// Beijing, China
Background: The 15-ton, $100,000 public bathroom in Zhong GuanVillage Plaza may be the safest in the world.
Why It's Unique: Immune even to TNT explosives detonated from within, this bunker of a bathroom is part of a string of anti-terrorism products debuted in China after 9/11. For the Chinese, the bathroom isn't much of a draw. Originally, usage instructions posted outside were in only English and French, but even after adding a Chinese translation in 2006, the toilet remains unpopular.