Gijs Van Vaerenbergh

007 The Upside Dome Drawing 01

The Upside Dome

The Upside Dome was a temporary intervention realized in 2010 inside the St Michael’s church, as a rarefied reflection of its own condition. The project takes as its starting point the unfinished situation of this 16th century Baroque church, located in the centre of Leuven. The building was never finished with its intended dome because of stability problems. The church's crossing thus remained unfinished and was topped with a simple flat wooden ceiling. In response to this, a suspended dome was created out of chains, as a counterpart to the never-completed dome. By their own weight, the chains naturally take on the form of a mathematically ideal catenary. As such, the work is not a replica of the planned dome, but rather an interpretation, guided by reason and economy of means. 

The chains of varying lengths are suspended in parallel from a superstructure that sits above the brick vaults. Appearing as lines, they present a series of cross-sections of the suspended dome, evoking the idea of a line drawing in space. This drawing, however, is not static but changes according to the spectator’s point of view. The chains contrast sharply with the baroque excess of the church’s interior. Up close, the chains appear rough and industrial-looking, as such enhancing the contrast with the monumental and richly ornamented church architecture. 


Church of Saint Michael, Leuven (BE)

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