Scent Culture Initiative: Exploring scentscape of Zurich WCs

The City of Zurich operates 107 public bathrooms and restrooms. Scent Culture Initiative explored the scentscape of selected facilities. Using a semi-structured questionnaire a number of restrooms were identified as outstanding and hence labelled as “approved by scentculture”. 

Cleanliness is commonly considered a Swiss trait. This was also an amazing experience of the urban scent walks we initially organized in 2014 in Bern. Yet, it remains an open question whether Switzerland really is as clean as it seems? And culturally even more interesting: What does cleanliness mean in this culture? How does it actually smell?

These are some of the underlying questions motivating the last event of our Zurich based Scent Culture Initiative aiming at public bathrooms and toilets as olfactory territories. We actually met at the train station and enjoyed a wonderful walk through the adjacent inner city. On our way we passed 5 public bathrooms. Most of them are free. A small fee of CHF 1 was needed for using a few of them.

As expected this was clearly not the most popular event we have ever organized! Yet, retrospectively, it is also a victory over some deeply rooted affects!

All in all, it was interesting to experience the diversity of olfactory landscapes. Some of this can clearly be attributed to previous users. Some of it results of different architectural situations. Surprisingly, we did not notice any lemon or chlorine notes. But we experienced most of the restrooms as clean. Thus, theses facilities were labelled as “approved scentculture”.

We have not yet decided how to take this event further. If you are interested, please get in touch.

Our next event is scheduled for 29 October 2018 – please reserve the date!

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Here is the original post on this event:

Mike Bouche’s The Zurich Load at Manifesta 11 demonstrated the provocative potential of the tons of daily sludge that are flushed out of sight on toilets everyday. The next event of our Zurich based Scent Culture Initiative aims at public bathrooms and toilets as olfactory territories. Join us!

Toiletten sind der Inbegriff für eine vielfältige Duftwelt. Von “frisch geputzt” hin zu üblem Gestank findet sich alles auf dem stillen Örtchen! Finde mit und heraus wie sich die Zürcher Toiletten präsentieren. Zusammen wollen wir die öffentlichen WC’s beurteilen und unsere Ergebnisse auch anderen zugänglich machen.
Wir treffen uns dazu am 19.09.2018 um 18.00 Uhr beim Gruppentreffpunkt im Zürcher Hauptbahnhof. Ausgerüstet mit Lageplan und Beurteilingsbogen machen wir uns auf in 2 Stunden möglichst viele Toiletten zu erschnuppern. Du brauchst dazu nur ein geeignetes Fortbewegungsmittel und eine gute Nase. Zum Schluss treffen wir uns zur Abschlussbesprechung. Wir freuen uns über tatkräftige Unterstützung beim schnuppern…