Reading Between The Lines – Borgloon, Belgium - Atlas Obscura
Unusual adventures and hidden discoveries. Explore our 2018 trips now »

Borgloon, Belgium

Reading Between The Lines

Part modern art project, part traditional chapel, this see-through church is only substantial from the right angle. 

From inside the Gijs Van Vaerenbergh-designed art church known as Reading Between The Lines, the natural sunlight hits the ground in a noirish checkerboard, belying the construction’s almost completely insubstantial walls. However, from any other angle, the building seems like a solid little chapel. 

Basing their design on the traditionally built local chapel in Limburg, Belgium, the architectural duo created their church in 2011 in conjunction with the art museum Z33. The single-steepled house of worship is set atop a concrete foundation on which 100 layers of stacked steel forms create the semi-transparent walls. Each layer is separated from another by over 2,000 squat steel columns. The net effect of the odd metal construction is that when viewed directly from any side of the church, its walls appear to be roughly see-through. However if the viewer sees walls from a higher or lower angle, the structure is suddenly solid. All said, the welded wonder weighs over 30 tons. 

Effectively a giant optical illusion, Reading Between The Lines serves as not only a statement about the permanence of architecture but also the relative sturdiness of church institutions themselves by creating a quiet place of reflection where one is at once removed from and exposed to the outside world.