Dutch architecture firm NEXT Architects had no problem designing a bridge for
pedestrians and cyclists. But making the structure a home for bats as well intensified the project’s requirements.
The bridge spans an area of the Vlotwatering River in Monster, the Netherlands
that hosts a large bat population. The project aimed to protect bats from both
human interference and predators.
With stakeholder input, the project team determined that heavy and natural
materials would perform double duty by providing an ideal bat habitat and an
ideal bridge for humans. The 0.75-meter ( 2.5-foot) concrete foundation, walls and
decks were thicker than normal, helping to shield bats from extreme temperatures
throughout the seasons.
Closely spaced wood slats covering the concrete provide crevices large enough
for bats to roost and small enough to protect them from predators. The 70-meter
(230-foot) bridge also has a brick wall that serves as a place for bats to rest during
PROJECT: Vlotwatering Bridge (aka Batbridge),
Monster, the Netherlands
BUDGET: €700,000 TIMELINE: March-October 2015
BUG BENEFIT: Bats help farmers by eating enormous
amounts of insects that can harm crops and animals.
“Sometimes by a small change...
it doesn’t take much to consider the whole
environment, and not only people.”
—Bart Reuser, co-founder, NEXT Architects, to Fast Company
The underbelly of the bridge was designed to
have access gaps to help bats evade predators.