Taanbrug in Biro

Taanbrug in Biro

Last year, a couple of weeks before Christmas, I was asked by the municipality of Schiedam to design a bridge head for a new bridge. I was already up to my eye balls in-end of-year assignments. But what self respecting designer would refuse to design the key part of a bridge? So I said yes and clocked some more late nights and long weekends. Who needs sleep anyway, eh? I have previously done design for the public space but never for an object with such a potential long life expectancy. I must admit, it tickles my ego knowing that, with a bit of luck, it will around long after I've been gone.

I always try to embed my design into a narrative. In this case not hard at all. Schiedam is a tiny city with a humongous amount of history attached to it. The bridge connects the 'Taansteeg' with the other side of the canal, hence the name 'Taanbrug'. Taan translates to 'tan' as in tanning liquid. Is this particular area of Schiedam fishing nets were being tanned thus improving the durability and resistance to salt water. Tanning liquid consisted of various ingredients among them oak bark. The tannin in the bark acted as a preservative.

Schiedam was quite famous for it's high quality netting. Nets carrying the Schiedam mark were much prized. Each mark show either three 'nachtglazen'*, in the case of nets produced in Schiedam, or one for nets adhering to Schiedam standards. A thing I really like is that the entire netting industry was run and controlled by women. Not bad for the 16th century! For my design I decided to incorporate the structure of netting, oak leaves and nachtglazen. All three combined they tell the story of this ancient Schiedam industry.

And now, finally, finally, I'm allowed to show my design for the bridge as it has been built and officially revealed by the mayor. Hurrah! The Beursbrug was the subject of one of the first panoramas I drew for my 'aWorldaWeek' project. So I decided to add another bridge to my collection to celebrate the reveal of 'my' bridge'.

* A type of hourglass used to tell the time aboard ship.


The ancient Schiedam industry of net tying and tanning.