Reading Between the Lines: The See-Through Church

When people call for “greater transparency” in the Church, I don’t think this is what they had in mind!

In the in the town of Borgloon, 50 miles east of Brussels, Belgium, there stands a “see-through church” complete with its own see-through steeple.

Visitors walk through the see-through church

But this structure is not really intended for corporate worship:  It’s part of the Z-OUT project of Z33, an ambitious long-term project to construct art in public spaces.  Z33, a center for contemporary art based in Hasselt, Belgium, plans to construct various artworks throughout the Flemish region of Limburg over the next five years.

The see-through church, named “Reading Between the Lines”, was designed through the collaborative efforts of Pieterjan Gijs and Arnout Van Vaerenbergh.  It stands 10 meters (32.8 feet) high and has 100 layers, constructed of 2000 columns of steel.  From a certain perspective, it seems a massive building; but viewed from a different angle, it seems to dissolve into the landscape.

The see-through church, which was named by the architecture website Archdaily as their building of 2012, evokes different meanings:

  • Some have looked at it and reflected on its architectural themes such as scale or ground plan.
  • Some have called it a philosophical reflection on the “emptying-out” of churches in the region, and have used it to introduce a discussion of whether churches which have fallen into disuse could be repurposed for another use.

Check out the project’s website, which includes a photo gallery showing the see-through church from many different angles.



New Years Trivia: What’s Really Happening at One Times Square

Tonight the eyes of millions will be on this spot:  the iconic One Times Square. 

That’s the spot at the intersection of Broadway, Seventh Avenue and 42nd Street in Manhattan, where a sailor grabbed a passing nurse for a kiss at the end of World War II.

It’s the Midtown corner where thousands of tourists and revelers gather each year on New Year’s Eve to watch the ball drop.

The façade of the slim 25-story building is a concrete and marble canvas for some of the flashiest neon advertising in existence.  There are 19 spots for advertisements, and the building’s owner receives in excess of $20 million annually in advertising revenue.  At least two of the advertising slots rent for $3.5 million a year—roughly the cost of a 30-second Super Bowl ad.

But did you know that except for Walgreens, which leases the lower floors, the building itself is mostly vacant?

The street-level retail space was once leased by the Warner Brothers Store; but when they broke the lease, it remained vacant for years.  And the rest of the building is vacant by design:  When Jamestown Properties and Sherwood Equities purchased One Times Square in 1996, they found it was no longer up to code.  Updating the wiring, heating, ventilation system, air conditioning and mechanics would be a costly investment, especially since the building’s location, at the intersection of three major streets, meant that the irregular floor plan provided little usable floor space for offices or shops.  And the building’s unusually high ceilings further reduced the income potential.  Better, the new owners thought, to use it strictly for advertising revenue, rather than invest in the costly updates necessary to make it useful to renters.

Here, Business Insider offers a unique look at the New Years Eve ball.

Happy New Year!



The Abbey of St. Gall and the Flying Cathedral

From Switzerland, some eye candy for mid-December:

The Abbey of St. Gall, founded by St. Othmar on the spot where St. Gall had his hermitage, contains one of the richest medieval libraries in the world.  The interior of the cathedral is one of Europe’s most important baroque monuments, in the Rococo style with carved polished wood, stucco and an elaborately painted ceiling.  Since 1983 it’s been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Among the most valuable documents in the library’s collection is a copy of Priscian’s Institutiones grammaticae which contains the poem Is acher in gaíth in-nocht… written in Old Irish.

The library also preserves a unique 9th-century document, known as the Plan of St. Gall, the only surviving major architectural drawing from the roughly 700-year period between the fall of the Roman Empire and the 13th century. The Plan—which was never actually built—was an ideal of what a well-designed and well-supplied monastery should have, as envisioned by one of the synods held at Aachen for the reform of monasticism in the Frankish empire during the early years of emperor Louis the Pious (between 814 and 817).


And here, the “Flying Cathedral”—a hot air balloon designed in 2008 by artists Jan Kaeser and Martin Zimmerman.  The balloon is a replica of the ninth-century Abbey.  Here, it’s shown flying at Ballontage Alpenrheintal, a Swiss hot air balloon festival.