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The outhouse – being inside while outdoors

Today, it's a given that most people have a toilet in their home. When the need arises, you go there and then flush away all the evidence with water through the sewers. But just a hundred years ago, it wasn't the norm at all to have a water closet inside the house, and a few decades back, the toilet was just an outhouse.

Maybe we're on our way back to nature now. Today's increasing environmental awareness has made us realise how wasteful it is to mix first-class manure with clean water and flush it away to a treatment plant. The outhouse has returned. It's back in the form of compost toilets and incineration toilets with different types of separation functions to divide the dry and wet waste we humans produce and get rid of the smell.

The next step is to question why we wee and poo in the same house we live in. Humans are the only animal that seems to have forgotten the logic of doing this away from our homes. This evaluation process is already underway - both interior design magazines and construction programs on television wax lyrical about 'secret houses' and their benefits. In addition to the obvious fact that faeces can be turned into ideal growing soil, we avoid lots of problems if we opt out of a WC. Sewage systems would be simpler, cheaper and much nicer to work with if the dirtiest thing that's let through is washing up water.

Having a toilet in your home also takes up a lot of space. It's an entire room that's only used for a few minutes a day and it can't just be placed anywhere. You have to think about drainage and sounds, and you can't have the toilet right next to the kitchen.

Many people will continue to want to have a water-flushing toilet in the house, but there's nothing wrong with having a backup outhouse. If you're not ready to have one at home then you can have it at your summer house. Why have a sewage system and risk leakage, flooding or the water freezing, when all that's really needed is a container?

An outhouse isn’t just practical, it's also cosy to have a whole house to yourself when you need to do the most private thing in the world. Forget the smell! It can be removed with fans (preferably solar-powered), slaked lime or perfumed sanitary liquids. A well-kept outhouse isn’t disgusting - it's only natural and pleasant.