On closer inspection it becomes clear that it s not only a free, kiosk style toilet.
It is also a double pissoir!
This high-tech version updates that, rare for London, idea of a permanent site for the relief of Gentlemen in nearly full public view. The Victorian pissoirs in Star Yard and Horseferry Road do provide much more privacy but they don't self flush like this one.
The other modern examples in Theatreland are just vile and are only open for use during peak periods! This one is open 24 hours a day throughout the year.
They have helped to solve a local problem and Westminster City Council should be applauded for introducing them. The air certainly smells sweeter in key points since their introduction. However there is one problem.
In the interests of research I recently tried them. Not in full daylight and certainly not as the nearby Pimlico Academy was ringing the home-time bell! I chose a discrete moment.
As I stepped up to the task a sensor in the floor detected my arrival and immediately began to flush. All very hygienic. It continued to flush at a rate that outpaced me for my entire visit. Small water droplets hit my face and I noticed them too on my hands and elsewhere.
I had been wearing a blue cotton shirt and chinos that day. Only when I returned home, a short distance away, did I realise that I had been horizontally showered by the machine! Little spots of damp from calf to collar were abundant.
I can only suggest that if you do need to use them, before the council turn down the water pressure, you do so only if wearing black all over, and preferably in synthetic fabrics, to avoid potential embarrassment.