Reading between the Lines: a contemporary interpretation of flemish tradition


Gijs Van Vaerenbergh




Corten Steel


Metal Parts

In a lush field, deep in the heart of the Belgian province of Limburg, stands a church that is both familiar and unlike any you have seen before. Though the shape of the structure echoes the traditional churches dotting the Limburg landscape, this particular church has no ceremonial function. Rather, Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh’s creation, ‘Reading between the Lines’, uses classical form language to evoke a new interpretation of the church and Flemish society. ‘We start from an architectural fact and look for the boundaries, without actually being determined,’ Gijs explains. And this makes for a truly unique piece of architectural art. 
Towering ten metres high and made of 30 tonnes of steel on a concrete foundation, ‘Reading between the Lines’ ought to be difficult to miss. And yet, depending on where you stand, the structure may stand out starkly against the idyllic landscape or may dissolve into it before your very eyes. In order to create this effect, Gijs and Van Vaerenbergh opted to use layer upon layer of 8mm Corten steel, leaving gaps in between the layers, so that viewers can literally ‘read between the lines’. 100 layers of steel supported by 2,000 column elements slice through the view of the landscape, creating an interesting interplay of flat lines against the natural background, or bringing the pastoral surroundings into the church itself in an abstract way

The design was adapted to optimise the balance between their idea and their budget.  The architects selected their materials with great care. The choice of Corten for all components allowed them to inte
grate the structure into the landscape, while minimising maintenance costs, which was the right decision, since ‘Reading between the Lines’ became a permanent fixture in the Limburg landscape

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