Architecture defines the spaces we inhabit. It is shaped by the environment and in turn it changes that environment. How architecture impacts its surroundings is a debate that comes up in council meetings all over the world. Belgian architects Gijs Van Vaerenbergh explore this relationship in a new installation called “Reading between the lines.”

The project can be seen in the Borgloon-Heers region in Belgium as part of the exhibition Z-OUT curated by Z33, a contemporary art museum in Hasselt. “Reading between the lines” is a copy of the local church made up of horizontal plates of steel. The nature of the construction means that, depending on the angle of the viewer, the church either looks like a solid mass or disappears into a ghostly shadow of itself. 30 tons of steel was used to build this modest structure, yet it vanishes as soon as you turn your head. The title of the work was carefully chosen. Due to the transparency of “Reading between the lines,” one can see the surroundings through its bulk. From the inside, it cuts up the landscape into abstract pieces. These interactions between building and nature are what the architects are exploring in the project. The church was chosen because of its importance to the local heritage of the building and the project could also be seen as a reflection of the state of religion in much of Europe today.

“Reading between the lines” is poignant in the delicacy of its structure. It may not be the traditional four walls and a roof, but it defines the space it is in, giving it the purpose that still draws us to churches. It is a conduit for contemplation.