Renewed toilets just 'the coolest'

Bog standard Buxton block brightened up

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 10:02 27/02/2014
Buxton Square toilet upgrade
SALLY KIDSON/FAIRFAX NZ

HELPING HAND: Some of the artists involved in the Buxton Square toilet upgrade are, from left, Karen Berge, Karin Fruhauf, Carleen Reich-Simko, councillor Kate Fulton and Pam Nixon.

Buxton Square toilets.
MARTIN DE RUYTER/FAIRFAX NZ
DASH OF COLOUR: The newly painted exterior of the refurbished Buxton Square toilets.

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The community spirit of those who volunteered to help transform the grotty Buxton Square toilet block has been officially recognised.

The refurbished toilets were blessed and opened at a ribbon-cutting ceremony this week.

Mirror artist Carlene Reich-Simko made seven mirrors for the toilets. She also helped choose the interior paint colours and spent hours painting the toilets.

She says it is wonderful for her work to be on such public display.

Carlene hopes the council will support more projects like this, and says the next great project would be the toilets at Tahunanui Beach.

She says it is "about getting the spirit of the community together".

The feedback from people who have used the Buxton Square toilets has been amazing.

"I can't count up how many people have come up and said: ‘These are the coolest bathrooms. I so appreciate what you guys have done."

She says the naysayers who said the mirrors and fittings were too nice for the toilet block were wrong, because if you create something unique you change the energy of the place.

The council had planned to build a new toilet block and the job was priced at $341,000.

However community placemaking consultant David Engwicht suggested the council, together with the community, take another look at the project.

The task was bigger than anticipated and the Nelson City Council, helped by Nelmac, took the project back to help finish it.

The toilet block has been painted in rainbow colours, new toilets, including 24-hour access toilets, have been installed, along with hand-basins and a wheelchair-friendly stall.

Mark Thomas of Mark Thomas Designs made the crafted steel gates at the toilet block.

He worked late into the night, sometimes finishing after 12.

"It took about three weeks day and nights."

Mark says it was a great project to be involved with.

He enjoys going and looking at the gates, and hearing people enjoy and discuss them.

"Every time I go by, I stop and look. It's quite neat they do not know it was me who made them.

"I'm proud of them. They exceeded my expectations."

Councillor Kate Fulton says a board acknowledging the volunteers will go up at the toilet block. This includes Mrs Reich-Simko, mural artists Karin Fruhauf and Karen Berg, construction manager Lee Woodman, landscape designer Michael Batten, Michael Kirwan, Mark Thomas Design, Tejas Arn, Pam Nixon, Lizzy Simko, Gabrielle Bell and Mike Watson for the carpentry for basin and toilet design.

A valuable contribution also came from stone-worker Manu Edmonds, who volunteered with the construction of the elevated garden containers and seats.

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- Nelson

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