Architects never cease to amaze us – and the Belgian architect duo Gijs Van Vaerenbergh is a great example. A collaboration of Belgian architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh has resulted in the construction of a see-through church- in a very literal sense. The Church in Limburg, Belgium titled – ‘Reading between the lines’ looks as if it is wearing a strange invisibility cloak. Just one look required to make you look again, and again, and again.
As much as I hate to burst your bubble of imagination, of it being a church or some great magic to be behind this genius, the church is a result of an architect’s brains and an artist’s wildest imagination. The ten meter-high church is constructed from 100 stacked layers of weathered steel plates. This ‘church’ consists of 30 tons of steel and 2000 columns, and is built on a fundament of armed concrete. Gaps between these plates allow visitors to see through the walls. Through the use of horizontal plates, the concept of the traditional church is transformed into a transparent object of art.
All these layers merge in one work of art that is open to various readings, from a strictly architectural one to an artistic one. ‘Reading between the lines’ is an accessible spatial intervention that gives, among others, a cyclist that happens to ride past, an unexpected visual experience, quite possibly resulting in him losing balance and falling off his cycle!
Depending on the perspective of the viewer, the church is either perceived as a massive building, or dissolves — partly or completely — into the landscape. Those viewers that look from the inside of the church to the outside, on the other hand, witness an abstract play of lines that reshapes the surrounding landscape. In this way, church and landscape can both be considered part of the work — hence also its title, which implies that to read between the lines, one must also, read the lines themselves. A fantastic use of capabilities with a mix of illusions created by our dramatic brain, the structure gives a massive blow to one’s senses.
This one’s sure to make your trip to Belgium worthwhile!