From our island perch here in the corner, the European Union can all be a bit baffling. On the one hand it gives the impression of a solid, homogenous whole (from which we in the UK are excluded/bombastically exclude ourselves) but on the other it’s a seething set of proud and individualistic nations in a constant jostle for position and influence.
This brilliant new project from Robin Stam explores this apparent contradiction in an amazingly ambitious way. It was decided that the new Euro banknotes introduced in 2002 should feature bridges in a not-so-subtle metaphor about the unifying effects of the single currency. But true to form, the designers were concerned that no recognisable national bridges were included lest some countries feel hard done by. In that wonderfully arcane EU-bureaucratese, they were to be “member state neutral” banknotes.
This is where Robin came in. “Wouldn’t it be amazing I thought 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 near Rotterdam? It all came together and before I knew it I was surrounded by a team of urban developers and engineers.”
And so here are some of the first pictures of the bridges which span the architectural styles which have dominated European history – including Roman, Gothic, Renaissance, Baroque and Rococo – brought to life by Robin and his tenacious team on a Dutch housing development.
It’s a wonderful project; playful, provocative and an interesting comment on the disparity between theoretical and real international relations.