Travel through a small Belgian village and you’re likely to see the remains of its old church, left to decay into the landscape. Inspired by such a scene, the architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh built Reading Between the Lines, a chapel-esque structure made of thousands of steel slats in Limburg, Belgium. Viewed from a certain angle, it appears to dissolve into its environs.
The installation is part of Z-OUT, a public-art program developed by Z33, a contemporary art gallery in Hasselt, Belgium. Borrowing from local architectural vernacular, Gijs and Van Vaerenbergh (together, they go by Gijs Van Vaerenbergh) designed a 32-foot-high tabernacle out of a hundred layers of steel, which was welded off-site and transported to the location in six pieces. Assembly took a day.
So is Reading Between the Lines a political plea for the Church to adopt a more open and transparent nature? Or is it meant to be a place for personal refection or communion with nature? “All of these things are true,” Gijs tells Co.Design. “It is about merging the typology of the church with the landscape. And it relates also to the debate on how to treat these old churches. They are less and less used, and people don’t know what to do with them.” We’d like to see similar structures installed where collapsed churches once stood, as ghost memorials for forgotten places of worship.
[Photos copyright Kristof Vrancken/Z33]