I came across this interesting item in Bloomberg BusinessWeek.
Usually life imitates art in banknote design, but in this case it's the other way around.
Those bridges on the back of euro notes were conceptual-until a rebellious Dutch designer got to work.
in the fall of 2009, Robin Stam was waiting to pay for his dinner at Angelo Betti, a busy pizzeria close to his
house in Rotterdam. Sitting at his table, he noticed for the first time the series of small bridges that appeared
on the back of his euro notes. A young graphic designer with a jagged mop of brown hair, Stam began to research
how the drawings ended up on the back of the euro.
The bridges were designed by Robert Kalina, an employee of the National Bank of Austria in the mid-'90s, as a
tribute to European engineering. When Stam, who has a rebellious streak, learned that the structures didn't
exist, he decided to change that. He would build the bridges for the first time in his hometown, the humdrum
Rotterdam suburb of Spijkenisse. "They chose bridges on the euro notes to symbolize communication between the
countries," Stam explained in December, sitting in studio space he rents with two friends in Hoogvliet, another
suburb on the edge of Rotterdam. "Well, that didn't work out."
Kalina's bridges beat out more than 40 other designs in 1996 because, among other factors, they were totally
uncontroversial. Each euro note's bridge represents a different European architectural epoch: classical,
Romanesque, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo, industrial, and 20th century modern. The higher the
denomination, the more recent the style. When the euro crisis started brewing, Stam set to work bringing the
bridges, those woebegone symbols of European cooperation, to life. "I thought it was funny that me, just a regular
designer, could take something that big and just claim it," says Stam, who is 30.
His plan was to build the bridges exactly as they appear on the back of the bills, down to the pastel colors,
which would enliven his drab portside suburb. Partly for a laugh, Stam mentioned the idea of building the bank-note
bridges to Spijkenisse Alderman Gert-Jan't Hart, who manages new construction projects on the city council.
"I thought that was a brilliant idea," Hart says. "Every European citizen and every member of the European
community who has the biljet in their hands will have a link to Spijkenisse."
The town happened to be in need of a set of bridges to support car, bicycle, and pedestrian traffic over a creek
surrounding a new middle-class housing development, Het Land (the Countryside). "We already reserved the money in
our budget for six bridges," Hart says. Because the development needs six and not seven bridges, two of the seven
bank-note bridges,the €5 classical and €20 Gothic bridges, are being built as a split-personality 20-meter-wide
dam. The entire project will cost Spijkenisse roughly €1 million ($1.29 million). "The euro bridges are, let's say
25 percent more expensive, but all the attention is more than worth it," says Hart.
To read the complete article, see:
The Euro Zone's Bridges from Nowhere
Wayne Homren, Editor
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