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Wednesday June 3 2015 / Art & Design

On September 24, 2011, Borgloon, a small town in the Flemish speaking part of Belgium, added a new attraction: a see-through church. Churches are an integral part of any European landscape, however this church isn't for praying to a higher being; it's a work of art conveying it's own message.

“Reading between the lines” is the name that architects Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenberg called their transparent chapel, which is a giant metal structure built out of 30 tons of steel with 2,000 columns set atop a foundation of reinforced concrete.

“The church does not have a well-defined function and focuses on the visual experience in itself”, says Van Vaerenbergh ( “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)”.

From a distance, the church looks like a line drawing, something from an artist’s sketchbook. Upon closer inspection, the 10 meter high sanctuary takes a more concrete shape and is either visible or invisible, depending on the viewer’s perspective.

The surrounding countryside peeks in through wide gaps made possible by the 100 layers of horizontal steel slabs held up with smaller steel blocks spaced several meters apart. It is nearly transparent.

Those concerned about being rained on need not worry. Even with the wall-less structure, people inside the church cannot get wet because of how the steel layers have been stacked upon each other vertically, their edges overlapping to create a rainproof roof.  

The massive piece of art was commissioned under the Z-OUT project, an initiative from Z33, the Hasselt contemporary art museum, whose goal is to present art in public spaces.

“Reading between the lines” is the first exhibition from the Z-OUT project called “pit”, where ten artists worked to create art in the Borgloon-Heers region of Belgium.

This incredible feat of architecture is one that even God himself might be in awe.

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Suggested by
Maximilian Büsser