Saturday, October 08, 2011

The Green Cathedral

After being intrigued by Klaa5's photos of De Realiteit Experimental Housing in Almere, Netherlands, and then finding more information, including an aerial, at Architecture Guide Nederland, I went Google sightseeing to find the small cluster of houses. But before I could find it I "flew" over this somewhat more intriguing solid/void representation of a church in trees:

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[Aerial of the Green Cathedral | Google Maps source]

De Groene Kathedraal (The Green Cathedral), at the bottom of the aerial, is a full-size copy of Reims Cathedral by artist Marinus Boezem that replaces stone and glass with poplar trees and sky. About 20 years after it was started the artwork was "completed" in 1996, yet it is expected to reach its full height in 2015. The duplicate footprint to the north is a clearing in beech trees that follows the original by about a decade, so it is not as tall as the first.
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[Reims Cathedral floor plan | image source]

The trees follow the columns and buttresses of the plan. Stone strips laid in the glass (faintly visible in the aerial) further mimic the groin vaults, inverting the church so that ground becomes roof.

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[L: Reims Cathedral; R: Green Cathedral | image sources: left and right]


While I like land art in general, I'm not usually inclined toward art that mimics in this regard. But the simplification of the space to one repeated element and the opening of the sky above, not to mention the metaphor of a natural cathedral, make this an appealing artwork. In being open to the sky the Green Cathedral reminds me of San Galgano Abbey in Italy and Tinturn Abbey in Wales, two Gothic ruins sans roofs. I'd love to visit Almere to sense the space of the artwork (I haven't been to Reims yet either, for that matter), but for now the above photo will have to do.