Constructing a Genius Loci: The St Pius X’s Church in Wilrijk

Interior of the St Pius X’s church in Wilrijk, after its construction (ca. 1967) and during a First Communion Mass (1977), architects Paul Meekels en Lode Wouters (Archive of the St Pius X’s parish, in Antwerp – Records about the construction of the parish infrastructure).

The St Pius X’s church in Wilrijk is not only a remarkable modern sacred building, but also an interesting case to study the way the Roman Catholic Church negotiated on its presence in the ‘ordinary’ suburban context of Antwerp during the post-war period. Read more about the establishment of this suburban parish and the construction of its principal sacred site in our new article in the proceedings of the conference Genius Loci: places and meanings. 

Weyns E., Sterken S. (2017). ‘Constructing a Genius Loci: the St Pius X’s church in Wilrijk, 1957-1967.’ In: Rosas, L. (Ed.), Sousa, A. (Ed.), Barreira, H. (Ed.), Genius Loci: lugares e significados | places and meanings: Vol. 1 (pp. 251-263). Porto.


Report Territories of Faith Workshop


Read more about our Territories of Faith Workshop in this article (in Dutch) in the latest KADOC newsletter (pp. 10-15).

You’ve got mail: church postcards

Here is yet another post about our small exhibition on the religious architecture of René Van Steenbergen. To stay in the holiday mood, this one is about postcards! For the exhibition, we printed postcards displaying historic and contemporary photographs of all the buildings, of which you can see some examples here. This idea was inspired by the custom of making postcards of newly constructed church buildings. On the backside of the cards, we also added a short text about the background of each church to quickly inform the visitors. Best wishes from Turnhout!

Looking at the religious architecture of René Van Steenbergen

Map of the newly built churches by architect René Van Steenbergen in the Antwerp province (Research seminar in architectural history, Faculty of Architecture, KU Leuven, Lieselot Lust and Renate Gerets)

Last month, we organised a small exhibition about the religious architecture of René Van Steenbergen (1911 – 1995) in Turnhout. Van Steenbergen was a very active architect in the Campine area during the post-war period. He has an oeuvre of no less than 800 buildings, covering the different programs of the Welfare state: single family houses, schools, churches, offices, industrial buildings, sport complexes and hospitals. As you can see on this map, he realized 14 new churches in the province of Antwerp, making him the most productive church-builder of the province in the post-war period.

The exhibition featured the models of most of Van Steenbergen church buildings, made by students of the KU Leuven Architecture Faculty, and research papers on the context of these buildings, made by students of the KU Leuven Arts Faculty (under supervision of Sven Sterken and Eva Weyns). This exhibition was the start of a three-year research project on Van Steenbergen by KU Leuven in collaboration with AR-TUR and Architectuur Archief van de Provincie Antwerpen (APA). To be continued!