What is "urine sauvage"? A problem for Paris

What’s more amazing? The fact that Paris, France, has a special “elite” force known as the Brigade des Incivilités, or Bad Behavior Brigade? Or the fact that Paris, France, considered some aggressive choice architecture as part of its war on public urination? The basic problem: Parisians were going…everywhere. City architect Etienne Vanderpooten thought a little splash-back might nudge them.

In 2005, Mr. Vanderpooten unveiled a design for an anti-pipi wall, a jagged surface that splashes urine back onto the unzipped offender. The prototype was attached to a wall in one of the most affected areas at the time — a street called the Cour des Petites Ecuries on Paris’ Right Bank. Mr. Vanderpooten says he often goes by to check on his experiment: “The people who used to pee there don’t pee in the same place anymore.” The city has no immediate plans to erect more of the walls.

Hat tip: Tom Vanderbilt (two in a row!)

Addendum: “Urine sauvage” is translated as wild urine.


  • Justin Holz

    I’m not sure this counts as a nudge. The way I understood it, a nudge would modify the behavior of a Human, but not an Econ. Having an anti-pipi wall splash back onto offenders alters the costs of peeing on the wall thereby altering the behavior of an Econ, doesn’t it?

  • Molly

    Good morning — Saw this article — http://www.nytimes.com/2009/09/06/us/politics/06address.html?_r=1&hp — and thought of Nudge this morning. Clearly folks in the Administration are not only reading the book, they’re acting on it. Congratulations!

  • Pardis

    Is there any good body to e-send me a copy of the book by Thaler and Sunstein: Nudge

    Thank you.

    Pardis Abdollahi

  • Moe J

    People may not initiate their pipi at that popular spot/wall anymore. But, does it mean they still pipi somewhere else? Then, does it men the problem fixed when people still have the urgency to pipi in the public?

  • http://www.bodybuilding.com Ryan

    LOL. I just went to Paris for a week and noticed that many areas smelled like urine. I was wondering what was going on.

    After walking around the city for a week, I have an even better, GENIUS idea for how to solve this problem… here goes… get ready for it…


    I felt the desire to publicly urinate quite a few times after searching all over for a bathroom in the main tourist areas.