Thinking Outside the Block

Boundaries are constantly being pushed for stainless steel, with new applications found in all walks of life – all it takes is a good imagination and the faith to see it through. This was the case with Wayne Milne, director and owner of Novaloo, a company making the shiny stand-alone public toilets seen dotted around Auckland and other centres in New Zealand.
Having worked with the Auckland City Council for nearly thirty years on bringing houses and public amenities back up to scratch, he realised there was a need for an attractive public toilet that would be relatively vandal proof. Wayne, an NZSSDA member and master builder, worked closely with City Architects to shape the distinctive, user-friendly design, “Naturally, one of the most striking elements of these toilets is their gleaming stainless steel cladding,” says Wayne. “This finish was my idea, born out of the knowledge of the material’s durability and ease of maintenance.”
Persistence pays off Initially Wayne met some resistance to the idea – it was thought the cladding might be reminiscent of an actual urinal. However, a close relationship of trust between Novaloo’s director, City Architects and the Auckland City Council saw the concept push ahead, with the first installed in the perhaps rather taxing environment of Karangahape Road, a late night area of Auckland.
New Zealand’s first stainless steel-faced public toilet was soon greeted with acceptance and its high usage testament to the building’s sense of approachability and safety for all who use it. However, the Novaloo not only provided a safer alternative to the traditional concrete bunker style toilet, it also had other attractive qualities. “In terms of vandalism, tagging in particular, the stainless steel provided advantages. It was not immune to being ‘bombed’ but the paint could easily be washed off when discovered.”
In terms, of general cleaning it proved equally advantageous. “The council cleans the inside of the toilets several times a day, but the exterior gets the once over only every few months – the rain washes it clean naturally,” says Wayne. The first Novaloos were clad in 304 stainless steel, but Wayne soon upped the standard. 
“As the toilets became more popular we began installing them by the sea – for example we fitted out the America’s Cup venue – and this proximity to the salty marine environment meant we had to move to grade 316 to prevent tea staining and possibly corrosion.”
Stainless with a Difference
While most of the toilets are clad in natural stainless, Novaloo has created some with coloured stainless steel doors. “Toilets specified for Queenstown had doors finished in charcoal-coloured stainless steel for an even more upmarket feel,” says Wayne. “These are slightly more susceptible to vandalism but that is not a major problem in Queenstown, so they were a good fit for the locality.”
The Inside Story 
The stainless story is continued on the inside of the toilets as well. The basins, bowls, hand rails and even mirrors are all in stainless steel, although ceramic bowls are also an option. “The bottom line is the council tends to go for stainless steel basins for their longevity,” says Wayne. “While a porcelain bowl might be broken with one kick, putting the service out of action for a weekend, the stainless steel bowl will likely end up with just a small, repairable dent.”