Competition Contrei Live – Leiedal
Client: Intercommuncale Leiedal and Municipality of Avelgem
Design: Monolab
Team: J.W. van Kuilenburg with Antonio Calisai
Year: 2019


a water based performance in five scenes…


In 2020 the Leiedal territory in Belgium, made of 13 municipalities and towns, exists for 60 years and to celebrate this the Contrei Live art route will be the core of the festivities. The space and landscape of Leiedal will have a focus on water in and around 16 different sites.

This design is about the Amelberga Church, originating from 1875, in the village of Bossuit. The church will be the epicenter of a series of water based performances in which the public participates.

Two issues have steered our design.

  1. After the church structure became unsafe, its roof and interior have been removed in 2008. A competition for transformation of the open church was won by Ellen Harvey. She designed a terrazzo floor with a shadow pattern of the church ruins after the 1st World War and the structural lines of the former roof structure.
  2. The myth of Amelberga from the House of the Pippiniden says she saved people in the 11th century from giant fishes that emerged from the Zenne River in Vilvoorde and later also from the Schelde River in Temse. A large fish would have taken her on its back across the Schelde River. After her death her coffin sailed on the water without rowers and accompanied by a giant fish. Every year in Temse the Wegom is still a pilgrimage of 23 km along the old borders of the parish, where a series of chapels in different places honor the Holy Amelberga of Temse.

Our design is made of 5 scenes.

scene 1

A procession of participants will pump water from De Schelde and thereby fill a large fish on a medieval wooden cart.

scene 2

The procession brings the fish into the church through the main entrance.

scene 3

The water is pumped from the fish along the church tower to a gargoyle on top of the tower. This spits the water on a construction of semi-transparent tensile membrane that is stretched between the old walls via steel cables. The steel cables follow the structural pattern of the original church and the lines of Ellen Harvey’s terrazzo artwork on the floor.

scene 4

The water makes a very thin water curtain in the shape of a rectangular space. The participants step through the water curtain into this space and then see a digital projection on the water curtain that surrounds them. The projection shows the significance of water for the emerging generations.

scene 5

After the performance the participants leave the church through the main entrance, accompanied by the flowing water on the terrazzo floor.