The Primitive Cathedral
October 11, 2011
In 1987, Dutch artist Marinus Boezem planted De Groene Kathedraal (The Green Cathedral), an arboreal tribute that recreates the plan of Reims Cathedral, whose stone columns have been replaced with tall Italian poplars. The trees aren’t expected to reach their peak growth until 2015, when their imposing height will match that of Reims itself. Read on.
Capture: A Daily Dose of Architecture
Spotted this morning by A Daily Dose of Architecture when “Google Sightseeing,” Boezem’s cathedral spans 150 meters long and 70 meters wide–the exact measurements of Reims–over a flat lawn on the banks of a narrow river near Almere in the Netherlands. To the north, a second artwork, created nearly a decade following its predecessor, is a glade amid beech trees, an inversion of the cloistered formation below.
Boezem’s decision to grow his cathedral in Reim’s likeness was borne out of his admiration for the Cathedral’s plan, which represents, for him, the highest achievement in the architectural notation of space. The plan, whose clarification of Gothic spatial sequences was a reaction to the overly wrought, meandering order of the day, renders a simple geometric massing that is rigorously articulated by projective elements such as vaults and arches.
Yet, whereas at Reims, the plan is, in fact, the generator of complex primary and secondary geometry and structure, the Green Cathedral simply, if intentionally, embodies its diagrammatic nature. Inlaid stone marks the crossing of groin vaults on the ground, inscribing the lawn with the means of projection for the sky above. The trees, which will never converge to roof the nave below, will eventually die and rot, giving way to a vast field of trunks. As if to serve as a future manual for reconstruction, Boezem’s work not only anticipates the ruinous fate that will meet all structures, but also poignantly prepares the moment of rediscovery.
Photo: Rook & Nagelkerke