Sure, toilets can be green

Greenwork’s green plant walls frame Uppsala municipality and JCDecaux’s new public toilet in Stadsträdgården. After the inauguration in January, vegetation has now become so lush that a carbon black has built a nest in the greenery. Greenworks landscape engineer Jens Öqvist has spent a great deal of time trimming the plant system and hoping for hatching any day.

– I was there and filmed the nestlings the other day, Jens Öqvist says enthusiastically while describing a diverse plant palette with blue-shimmering bugle, red and green heuchera, dark pink rhododendrons among the lady’s mantles rosette leaves.

– We also have lush red Chinese rhubarbs and large shieldleaf Rodgers flower that give even more jungle feeling.

At the inauguration, Rickard Malmström, chairman of the Uppsala Municipality’s Street and Community Environment Committee, emphasized that the city toilet should contribute to a more robust management of climate change.

– The toilet is accessible to everyone regardless of gender and age, Rickard Malmström emphasized. The green exterior with plant walls and sedum roofs lower the temperature inside during summer days while the smart water management saves water.

JCDecaux is responsible for the investment cost of SEK 3.5 million. Before Magnus Heljeberg, CEO of JCDecaux Sweden, assisted Rickard Malmström with cutting the red ribbon for journalists and the municipality’s employees, he stated that it is obvious that the toilet is free from all types of advertising.

– We are also responsible for the operating costs, the taxpayers here in Uppsala do not have to go in with any money and it does not cost to go to the toilet either. We are planning for several green and smart city toilets around Sweden.

JCDecaux’s Deputy CEO Mikael Nilsson showed the cleaning that happens after every toilet visit. The floor is effectively flushed with the company’s own developed self-cleaning and disinfection system, where barely visible high-pressure nozzles blow water horizontally along the floor surface. The cube-like building has two smaller toilets, a urinal and an accessibility-adapted toilet. 

– “The jungle mug” that the public toilet has been jokingly called, is as green on the inside as on the outside, Mikael Nilsson emphasized. The water for cleaning is filtered and can be reused between 50 and 80 times before it needs to be replaced. We also have sensors that alert if maintenance or other assistance is needed.

The location just next to Stadsträdgården’s playground not far from the park’s Pelle Svanslös Statue is of course strategic. Jens Öqvist explains that the plant map is planned to withstand both cold winter and hot summer.

– For the first time, Greenworks contributed plant walls to a city toilet at Konsul Olsson’s site in the middle of Helsingborg seven years ago, says Jens Öqvist. Now we have a series of projects of this type under way, including plant-lined recycling stations for Madrid’s equivalent of Ragnsells, and why not also different types of kiosks in Europe’s major cities?


In three weeks we expect to inaugurate Greenworks new showroom on Storgatan 1 at Östermalmstorg and Hedvig Eleonora church. In addition to the green-clad office, the external plant wall is under construction, and on the inside we already have Philips Signify’s lighting in place to showcase and discuss the concept of Human Centric Lighting: how our bodies are controlled by light intensity and color temperature. In addition to the Slaughterhouse area, we are in the process of building live vertical moss gardens in a unique project, we will return with more information shortly.

Learn more about some of our exciting projects, covering various architectural offices, real estate developers, construction companies, plant decorators and private homeowners!