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Design for Temporary Notre Dame Structure Revealed

Monday, August 5, 2019

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Architecture and design firm Gensler recently unveiled its rendition of a temporary place of worship to be constructed in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

The structure would sit in Parvis Square and offer “a beacon of hope” while the cathedral is being restored.

Background

On the evening of April 15, flames engulfed the more than 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, destroying the spire and nearly two-thirds of the roof.

With the help of about 500 firefighters battling the blaze, the fire was brought under control by the early hours of the following morning, five hours after the outbreak. There were no fatalities in the fire.

Images: Gensler

Architecture and design firm Gensler recently unveiled its rendition of a temporary place of worship to be constructed in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral.

There were no initial reports about what had caused the blaze, though police said at the time that it appeared to be accidental and that the cause could be linked to the ongoing 6-million-euro ($6.8 million) renovations. Since then, though, investigators have said they believe an electrical short-circuit is the culprit.

President Emmanuel Macron has specified that he wants the monument to be rebuilt in five years, in time for the 2024 Summer Olympics, slated to be held in Paris. To aid this goal, digital 3D scans taken by the late Andrew Tallon of New York’s Vassar College in 2015 are believed to provide the necessary information for fast-track construction.

However, some experts are warning there might not even be enough skilled workers to complete the task.

In addition, there’s anticipated discussion about whether the designs revealed by the images will even be followed, or if more modern construction methods will be used. To go along with this, French Prime Minister Eduoard Phillipe announced a design competition that encouraged architects to create a replacement that was “adapted to the techniques and challenges of our era.”

Since then, several ideas have been revealed, but lawmakers have since pushed back on revisions to the restoration by putting forth a mandate that the cathedral be restored to how it looked right before the fire.

The Temporary Structure

The building would be constructed primarily of charred timber with a roof constructed out of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene cushions and walls made up of translucent polycarbonate.

The building would be constructed primarily of charred timber with a roof constructed out of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene cushions and walls made up of translucent polycarbonate.

“Charred timber, which is one of the oldest and most effective methods of protecting wood from fire, also symbolizes that what once destroyed Notre-Dame will only serve to make it stronger thus expressing a language of rebirth and transformation,” said Duncan Swinhoe, Regional Managing Principal at Gensler.

Behind the altar, movable panels will be installed that will allow for a full view of the cathedral. The design also includes rotating panels at ground level that can be positioned to open or close for mass services or be moved to open up the space for performances or as a marketplace.

“It is important that the design is true to, but doesn’t upstage, the cathedral,” Swinhoe said.

“We wanted to strike a balance between a structure that invites the community yet can be transformed to become a reflective and spiritual haven when mass is celebrated. We hope this offers the people of Paris, and the world, a statement of hope and rebirth.”

Though the design is still in a concept stage, Architectural Digest reports that should Macron approve the structure, it could be ready in about six months.

   

Tagged categories: EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); EU; Fire; Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Maintenance + Renovation; Renovation; Upcoming projects

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