Snøhetta designs new banknotes for Norway’s Central Bank

Country: Norway

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Image courtesy of Snøhetta

Snøhetta designs new banknotes for Norway’s Central Bank

It’s quite uncommon that architects are asked the design of a banknote.
Yet, in 2014, following a design competition, The Central Bank of Norway appointed Snøhetta and Metric Design/Terje Tønnessen to develop the design of its new paper currency.

From 2014 to 2019, the two design firms redesigned the 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 kroner notes; with one firm designing one side and the other the opposite side of each banknote. The design proposals were then slightly adjusted by the Central Bank of Norway to comply with security and counterfeit standards.

Snøhetta and Metric Design, new Norwegian banknotes

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The new Norwegian banknotes; above the Snøhetta-designed side, below: the side designed by Metric.

While Metric Design’s proposals, inspired by the relationship between Norwegian people and the sea, feature rather figurative motifs, Snøhetta’s designs are quite abstract; their densely pixelated patterns evoke a number of different elements, including the geometry of Norway’s coastline, traditional mosaics, and subtle references to the Beaufort wind force scale.

“The undulating waves and pixilated patterns of the note vary from each specific banknote design, whether a 50, 100, 200, 500 or 1000 kroner note, by referencing the Beaufort scale which measures wind speed. On the 50 kroner note the wind is gentle, represented by a dense cubic patterning and long, tame waves in a subtle organic wave pattern. On the other side of the scale, the 1 000 kroner note is characterized by a strong wind, expressed through long, pixelated cubes and short, choppy waves.“  Snøhetta.

After the release of the 50, 100, 200, 500 kroner notes, the final banknote of the series, the 1000 kroner one, went into circulation in the first quarter of 2019; it would possibly be Norway’s last paper note if, as many expect, physical currencies will be soon replaced by digital-only ones.

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Images courtesy of Snøhetta


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