apocalisse blogs about architecture

7

The Transparent Church - Gijs Van Vaerenbergh, Belgium 2011

This ‘church’ consists of 30 tons of steel and 2000 columns, and is built on a fundament of armed concrete. Through the use of horizontal plates, the concept of the traditional church is transformed into a transparent object of art.

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. In other words: the church makes the subjective experience of the landscape visible, and vice versa.

‘Reading between the lines’ can be read as a reflection on architectural themes such as scale, the ground plan etc., but the project also emphatically transcends the strictly architectural. After all, the church does not have a well-defined function and focuses on visual experience in itself (one could even consider it to be a line drawing in space). At the same time, the construction demonstrates that this experience is in effect a consequence of the design, since it explicitly refers to the various stages in its conception: the design drawing, the model… Apart from that, because the church does not fulfil its classical function, it can be read as a heritage related reflection on the present vacancy of churches in the area (and their potential artistic reuse).