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Notre Dame People's Design Winners Announced

Thursday, August 8, 2019

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Earlier this week, GoArchitect announced the winners of The People's Notre Dame Design Competition. The competition received 226 entries from 56 countries since its launch in May.

The winners were chosen by the public with more than 30,000 votes.

About the Competition

After fire broke out on April 15, destroying the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral’s spire and two-thirds of the roof, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that the cathedral would be rebuilt.

Since the vow, the country has launched a design competition, looked at laser scans to better aid reconstruction plans and issued a bill that the iconic structure would be rebuilt the same as before.

Taking matters into its own hands, GoArchitect decided to launch a people’s competition, created as a chance for architects all over the world to submit designs “for the people” versus being decided by big-name firms and closed-door meetings. Although it couldn’t promise that the winning design would be used for the real structure, the competition planned to do everything in its power to demonstrate that designers around the world deserved a chance.

“As we think about what happened, it is easy to recognize that Notre Dame Cathedral is more than a building,” states the competition’s entry page.

“It is a symbol, a collection of memories, a witness to history and a monument we've all been impacted by. You don't have to be French or even Catholic to understand this building is beyond a collection of pews, alters and stained-glass windows.”

The challenge was free to enter, and the context was simple: “Design your answer to the future of the Notre Dame Cathedral.” Composed of four parts, designers were required to submit:

  • One aerial image of their design;
  • One street-level image of their design;
  • One “experience” image of the design showing a unique feature; and
  • A short description of the design, under 500 words, in English.

The deadline for the competition was 11:59 p.m. PST on June 30. Public voting opened on July 7 and ended July 31.

The Winners

Designed by United States-based Chinese architects Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li, “Paris Heartbeat” creates a literal heartbeat for the city.

In an interview, the two report that their spire design is a collection of poly-mirrors and is based off the original Viollet-le-Duc-designed spire, displaying classical proportions and octagonal geometry. Reflected by the mirror roof, the two give the building a constantly changing look, reflecting the urban environment around it.

Topping the spire is a levitating time capsule, slated to be opened every half century. Using a system of magnets, the high-tech installation moves up and down in a rhythmical motion, representing the city’s breathing and beating heartbeat.

When viewing the tower from inside of the cathedral, visitors would see a kaleidoscope-style reflection, created through vibrant glass dyes, light and the structure’s shadows. The Rose Window of Notre Dame is reinterpreted through this design, according to the architects.

In a statement, Cai and Li said, “Notre Dame witnesses the Paris history for over 800 years. It burns, it survives and it co-breathes with the ever-changing world. Every time the disaster left its impress upon Notre Dame and that became an indelible part of the history. We believe the 2019 fire will give Notre Dame a nirvana and marked a new era.”

The winning team not only received a $1,000 grand prize, but will be featured in a new book, Visions of Notre-Dame, which will feature all 226 designs submitted for the competition.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architectural history; Architecture; Asia Pacific; Awards and honors; Color + Design; Color + Design; Commercial / Architectural; Commerial/Architectural; Competitions; Design; Design - Commercial; Designers; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Latin America; North America; Renovation; Z-Continents

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