Fictional bridges on Euro banknotes
constructed in the Netherlands


Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam

News: the fictional bridges depicted on Euro banknotes have been been transformed into reality at a new housing development near Rotterdam.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam
Bridge from the €200 note (also top)

Dutch designer Robin Stam was inspired by the seven images of archetypal bridges originally created by Austrian designer Robert Kalina to represent key phases in Europe's cultural history.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam
Bridge from the €50 note

The illustrations on the banknotes show generic examples of architectural styles such as renaissance and baroque rather than real bridges from a particular member state, which could have aroused envy among other countries. "The European Bank didn't want to use real bridges so I thought it would be funny to claim the bridges and make them real," Stam told Dezeen.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam
Bridge from the €20 note

The local council responsible for constructing a new housing development in Spijkenisse, a suburb of Rotterdam, heard about the idea and approached Stam about using his designs.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam

"My bridges were slightly more expensive but [the council] saw it as a good promotional opportunity so they allocated some extra budget to produce them," says Stam.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam
Bridge from the €5 note

The bridges are exact copies of those shown on the banknotes, down to the shape, crop and colour.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam
Bridge from €500 note

"I wanted to give the bridges an exaggerated theatrical appearance – like a stage set," adds Stam, who poured dyed concrete into custom-made wooden moulds to make them.

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam

All seven bridges surrounding the development have been completed and are being used by cyclists and pedestrians. Stam says they have divided opinion among residents: "Some people's initial impression is that the bridges are ugly but when they find out the story behind them they find it really funny."

Bridges of Europe by Robin Stam

In his recent Opinion column, Sam Jacob talks about the made-up landmarks on Euro notes as he ponders the historic and cultural symbolism of money.

The latest Dezeen stories about bridges include a heated pedestrian bridge in Sweden and Zaha Hadid's Sheikh Zayed Bridge in Abu Dhabi.

See more bridge designs »
See all our stories about design and money »

Here are some more details from the designer:

On the first of January 2002 new banknotes were introduced in Europe. In addition to windows and gateways, these seven banknotes also depict several bridges. Each bridge has an individual appearance, all of which can be recognised as having originated throughout certain periods in European cultural history: Classical Antiquity, the Roman period, the Gothic period, the Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, Iron- and glass architecture and lastly contemporary, twentieth century architecture.

Designed by Robert Kalina, the bridges are meant to illustrate the tight collaboration and communication between Europe and the rest of the world in general, but more importantly, amongst the European countries in particular. However, the bridges portrayed in the banknotes are fictional.

They have been designed to prevent one single member state from having a bridge on their banknote opposed to other states not having any depicted in theirs. In other words, “member state neutral” banknotes.

Now wouldn’t it be amazing if these fictional bridges suddenly turn out to actually exist in real life? And wouldn’t it be even more amazing if these bridges were to be built in a new housing project in the former centre of urban development and suburb, Spijkenisse.

  • johan

    Sometimes "funny" and "amazing" are exactly the right reasons for doing something, but this is not one of those times. The joke wears off before the end of the text.

  • zizi

    Bridge from the €200 note is the best one.

  • H-J

    And in the end you’re just stuck with a couple of hideous bridges. They already look terrible on our money (especially if your used to the old Dutch banknotes) and now they remind us everyday of how low the level of design has sunk.

  • reinierdejong

    A great gimmick but should gimmicks be built?

    • Have the last 15 years not been the years of the gimmick buildings?

      • Andy Powell

        If you look at Amsterdam, then yes. Most of the new buildings look terrible.

  • jmt

    Why is this a good idea? It’s not like this project is meaningfully connected to the Euro, it’s just a simple housing project. More of a gimmick to sell apartments IMO.

    It is, of course, much harder to develop something original that is contextually relevant. The people that will be living here are being sold out by this “designer” pretending to be an architect.

  • vincent

    That’s what’s called reverse engineering.

  • Stc

    Defeats the purpose of neutral banknotes.

  • Bob
  • name


  • bidou

    Totaly in love with this project.

  • Donkey

    Lighten up!

    This kind of playful novelty is what's needed if we're forced to accept awful housing estate after awful housing estate.

    Look at the houses in the background, it's like they used Dagenham as a template.

  • vincent

    If you can’t see the fun of such a project, you’re just an incredible sourpuss.

    I know it is just little dumb facades in front of standard bridges. But sneaking the fictitious designs from banknotes and making them your own is just brilliant.

  • pipo

    Cool project. Adds some imagination to an otherwhise mundane suburban neighbourhood. The bridges “looking ugly” is not really an argument if you are familiar with the looks of the average Dutch vinex neighbourhoods anyway.

  • sergio

    How silly.

  • PeterB

    This is surely a project that is more worthy of a temporary exhibition, Expo or Disneyland, than for a permanent feature? The statement it makes must surely become tiresome for those living within constant sight of it.

    The bridge facades appear to be just that – cosmetic applications to a structure, rather than the functional structure itself. So the result looks very ‘plastic’ and unconvincing.

    The technique can be seen across suburbia, where the tasteless desire for status has led to a proliferation of cement-cast driveways and parking areas pretending to be look-alike cobbled, brick or stone-paved driveways.

    For that reason, does that place it in the right location?

  • polo

    Silly and great!

  • Natasha Cloutier

    The bridges are in Spijkenisse, not Rotterdam. To say that they are in Rotterdam is like saying that Delft is in The Hague.

  • Hi Natasha,

    Thanks for pointing this out. We’ve amended the headline to avoid any further confusion.

    Best wishes,

  • Joshua I.

    Altogether now

  • Reed

    This is kind of one of those “why not?” sort of things. It’s cute.

  • And

    The EU put fake bridges on its bank notes so no member state would feel left out. Then the Dutch built them all.

  • Urban Ed

    It does seem like turning an intentionally bland and featureless design into a real bridge isn’t really sensible.