Moses Bridge / RO&AD Architecten

Courtesy of

Architects: RO&AD Architecten
Location: , The Netherlands
Client: Municipality of Bergen op Zoom
Material used: Accoya wood
Project Area: 50 sqm
Photographs: Courtesy of RO&AD Architecten

floor plan

The West Brabant Water Line is a defense-line consisting of a series of fortresses and cities with inundation areas in the south-west of the Netherlands. It dates from the 17th century but fell into disrepair in the 19th century. When the water line was finally restored, an access bridge across the the moat of one of the fortresses, Fort de Roovere, was needed. This fort now has a new, recreational function and lies on several routes for cycling and hiking.

Courtesy of RO&AD Architecten


It is, of course, highly improper to build bridges across the moats of defense works, especially on the side of the fortress the enemy was expected to appear on. That’s why we designed an invisible bridge. Its construction is entirely made of wood, waterproofed with EPDM foil. The bridge lies like a trench in the fortress and the moat, shaped to blend in with the outlines of the landscape.

Courtesy of RO&AD Architecten

The bridge can’t be seen from a distance because the ground and the water come all the way up to its edge. When you get closer, the fortress opens up to you through a narrow trench. You can then walk up to its gates like Moses on the water.

Courtesy of RO&AD Architecten

Text provided by RO&AD Architecten

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* Location to be used only as a reference. It could indicate city/country but not exact address.
Cite: "Moses Bridge / RO&AD Architecten" 17 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 25 May 2015. <>
  • SALT

    Best project I have seen in a long time. Good job and thanks for sharing.

  • DME

    While interesting am I the only one who see’s it to be extremely flawed? Pretty pointless if it just fills up and can’t be used when it rains.

    • EJS

      Those were my thoughts exactly. It looks great, but what happens when the moat overtops the bridge? Is there an easy way for the water to clear out?

    • will

      yes there is many pics of it completely flodded. and sure its a great ‘looking’ idea but you would waste less energy walking straight across then going down and then up stairs


    What happens if it floods? or it rains? Either way, it’s still cool Architecture, just a bit flawed. :D

    • H-J

      If you look properly, the floorboards have gaps where the water can go and gotten rid off in case of rain, as for floods, the waterlevels in the Netherlands are controlled, have to be controlled, notice the dike around the little lake?

  • Julius

    An economical and sensitive solution to a seemingly impossible problem becoming an exhilarating spatial event by itself. A wonderful, and rare, example of what a great art form architecture under auspicious circumstances can become. Hats off.

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  • Thomas

    It’s located in the Netherlands, each waterlevel is controlled artificially. Margins are quite small here though.

  • der Bob

    DME and Harry – Even Bob Vila could calm your worried minds. It’s called a sump pump. I think
    I see two in the drawing, but I can’t read Dutch -
    at least at this resolution.

  • hannibal

    i love it when a plan comes together.

  • mvb

    …Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the ARCHITECT drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided…

  • Jojo

    Pretty good!

  • Mara Okisman

    great name for the bridge :)
    original idea
    nice visual effect and anticipated emotional reaction

    for all the people who see flaws, dont you think they calculated all of that into their project? it would be really silly if they didnt think of the rain and flooding while designing a bridge on water. so stop worrying, im sure they have a drainage solution in details ;)

  • vamd

    Where can I find details about the structure ?
    I like this project !

  • Kyryl

    All that new is well forgotten one. Water Temple in Hyogo by Ando, 1991.

  • Paul

    The design is really interesting, however it is functionally flawed in a few ways.
    Firstly, this bridge is going to require allot of maintenance. The debris (mud, earth…)from the sides of the moat will inevitably be poured down with rain because of the low sides of the bridge. This being Holland, well, it is bound to rain often. That will require cleaning… As for the water problem, I believe that the designers took that into account fro the beginning, so that I do not see as a potential problem.
    Secondly, the bridge is surrounded by bicycle paths. Instead of just riding over, now the cyclists have to take their bike down and up a substantial flight of stairs. The bridge being narrow, 2 cyclist will have a hard time crossing at the same time (I am not sure how frequent those paths are, so maybe this is not a problem?)
    Old people and people with walking difficulties will also have a hard time crossing, since instead of just easily walking over, they now have a vertical obstacle of a sort.
    All of this being said,I again state that this is a stunning piece of design.

    • mid-cent-man

      I agree and whatever method is used to drain the “bridge” will require lots of maintenance. I have to imagine it relies on a sump pump given location. Even a natural gravity drain would require maintenance.

      They could just as easily built an elegant under deck truss bridge not visible above the moat.

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  • Polina

    Despite all the possible flaws I have to really admit that this piece is a tonic. Haven’t seen anything that brilliant in a long time. The whole concept is very brave. Well done!

  • Lodo

    E’ una costruzione CONTRO NATURA !!! VERGOGNA!!!

  • snbtch

    I realy like it!!.. but I can’t understand how the water flows bacuse it seems like a river.. and what will happen when the water level increases?

    • k.s.

      apparantly, they have dams on both sides of the bridge, and when they need to they can drain( or fill) the water. I don’t know how true this is.

  • ADA

    Where is my ramp ;)
    Those crazy Euros. The experience getting across is unique.

    • dlevy

      Good point

  • carlos

    i can’t see the section plan there are more plan of this project… its great