One of the First Waterless Urinals is Now in a Museum

For waterless urinal aficionados, you can see one of the first ever public waterless urinals on display at the Technisches Museum Wien, otherwise known as the Vienna Technical Museum. Built in 1908, this waterless urinal was once installed in Sachsenplatz Square, one of the city's most historic and beautiful squares.

The urinal housing is very private. The urinals are installed in a type of outdoor room, which is then surrounded by a low-level wall. We should add that this was not the first public urinal installed in Vienna. Water-using urinals have been found in cities like Vienna and all over Europe for almost two centuries.  It's just that this was one of the first public access waterless urinals.

This waterless urinal was based on a design created by Wilhelm Beetz.   Referred to as the "oil system" because it uses oil for the urinal to properly function, the oil worked in two ways:

1.  It acted as a disinfectant, helping to keep the urinal clean and sanitary

2.  It blocked odors.

Beetz knew that unless the odor problem could be addressed, waterless urinals would likely never be accepted for public use.  So confident was he in his oil system no-water urinals, that he had his design patented. He then created a company which exported no-water urinals around the world. One of the taglines found on his company brochure at that time was the following:

"A relief facility from iron for men."

Wow, sounds real macho. In time the Municipality of Vienna awarded Beetz the contract to install his waterless oil urinals around the city. By 1910, there were a total of 137 public urinals in Vienna, many were waterless urinals based on the system Beetz created.

But there’s more.  Remember we talked about the “housing” of these waterless urinals earlier. They became very popular as well.  The different designs allowed the urinal to be surrounded by a round, rectangular, or octagonal "pavilion," as it was referred to. It became so popular it was soon known around the world at the "Viennese Pavilion Urinal" and was used to shelter waterless as well as water-using urinals.

In a sense, the oil Beetz used is like the liquid sealant we use in today's waterless urinals. While it is not designed to disinfect the waterless urinal, the sealant does block sewer odors from entering the restroom. Because blocking odors was one of his key objectives, Beetz would likely be very proud of the waterless urinals we have today.

For more information on waterless urinals and to use water more efficiently, contact a Waterless Co Specialist