If you’re uptight when it comes to talking about scatological habits, you’re certainly not alone: Most of the Western world prefers to steer clear of the shameful topic, in the hopes of denying our baser needs. Some designers have gone so far as to create toilets that completely disappear from view, so Philips’s conceptual Microbial Home is all the more striking for its use of human waste as a source of energy–even the kitchen runs on human poop. But of course, the most obvious instance of the company’s unabashed focus on human waste is its squatting toilet, an energy-free, water-saving unit that diverts both effluent and solid waste from the sewer.
The toilet features a handlebar for comfort and support. Before making its way down the drain, effluent waste travels through a series of filters–charcoal, sand, and ceramic–as well as a system of plants. Solid waste supplies the Microbial Home’s bio-digester, which uses bacteria to produce methane gas.
Per Philips’s press release:
[The squatting toilet] provokes discussion and evaluation of toilet taboos and ablution habits. It draws attention to the necessary systemic shift from utility dependent sanitation systems to regenerative localized solutions that see waste as a necessary part of a domestic eco-system.
But it’ll take a bathroom-culture revolution before squatting toilets make their way into American homes, even if they do present ergonomic and health benefits. Here in the U.S., we may not be keen on monarchies, but we love our thrones.