Hamburg pee repellent paint

An animated demonstration uploaded to YouTube shows how hyrophobic paint is being used in Hamburg, Germany to deter club-goers from urinating in public. (IG St. Pauli / YouTube)

It’s an unfortunate truth that in neighbourhoods where bars, nightclubs, or even daytime street festivals can be found, so too can people stumbling around after last call — with very full bladders.

Inhibitions numbed, drunk revellers have been known to urinate in bushes, on sidewalks, behind back-alley dumpsters, and even on the hoods of cars (as some of us have come to learn the hard way.)

Simply put, public urination is a huge and rather disgusting problem for many cities.

Yet, aside from increasing fines for those who get caught in the act, not a lot of progress has been made in terms of stopping offenders.

Has Germany found the solution?

We’re not sure yet, but a new technology being used to stop people from peeing all over the St. Pauli’s nighclub district in Hamburg seems promising.

Reuters reported this week that a “local interest group” from the renowned club-hopping neighbourhood has applied a special hydrophobic paint to the walls of buildings in the area to deter what Germans call “Wildpinkler.”

This water-repellent paint, similar to the type that’s used to coat cargo ships, will send any liquid bouncing straight back towards its source with approximately the same amount of force that it came in with.

As you can imagine, urinating onto a wall covered in hydrophobic paint makes for one very messy experience — which is exactly the point.

"This paint job sends a direct message back to perpetrators that their wild urinating on this wall is not welcome," said Julia Staron of the St. Pauli’s Community of Interest group to Reuters. "The paint protects the buildings and the residents and most importantly it sends a signal this behaviour is not on."

A video called “St. Pauli pinkelt zuruk” or “St. Pauli Peeback” was posted by the community group on Monday to demonstrate how the paint works.

More than one million people have viewed the video in just under five days.

“Walls that pee back on you — how poetic!” wrote one YouTube commenter. “We need this all over the world!”

“Best use yet for superhydrophobic coatings yet,” wrote another. “Guessing there are many neighborhoods near nightclub districts that could use this.”

Some aren't fans of the initiative, however, saying that a better solution would be to install more public toilets instead of using an expensive substance to combat the problem (for the record, it costs about €500 — or $684 CAD — to cover a six-square metre area with hydrophobic paint.)

Others point out that public urinators could simply “pee diagonally” to avoid any splash-back.

Regardless of whether or not the idea will take off in other cities, it’s certainly attracting plenty of attention right now.

I guess we’re not the only ones who’ve had our cars peed on.