Greenhouse Proposed for Notre Dame Roof


In the wake of Notre Dame Cathedral’s devastating fire, Paris-based architects Studio NAB have submitted a design proposing a greenhouse and educational apiary to sit upon the damaged landmark.

As prompted by French prime minister Eduoard Phillipe, invitations encouraged architects to create a replacement that was “adapted to the techniques and challenges of our era.”

The Studio's renderings tackle one of the most divisive topics worldwide: climate change.

What Happened

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. No fatalities took place and only one firefighter was reported seriously injured.

Firefighters were also able to help remove priceless artworks and religious relics from the medieval structure.

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. Choosing which era of Notre Dame to recreate from remains a challenge as well.

Greenhouse and Other Design Proposals

After a special cabinet meeting—which focused on the devastating fire—an announcement for a competition to replace the spire was issued.

Of the designs considered, seven were revealed and received much media spotlight.

Of these designs, Italian architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas proposed a contemporary roof and spire made from Baccarat crystals that would be lit up every evening; French designer Mathieu Lehanneur proposed a golden, fire-like structure; Bratislava-based Vizumatelier proposed a lightweight tower that would shine a beam of light directly upward; and Cyprus collaborative architectural studio Kiss The Architect suggested various arches and balls wrapped around a central staircase-type spire.

More similarly to the latest greenhouse suggestion, São Paulo-based architecture practice AJ6 Studio submitted a design of the roof and spire, made almost entirely from stained glass; French architect and artist David Deroo submitted an almost replica of the previous spire, using innovative strategies of our time; and Russian architect Alexander Nerovnya proposed a full glass roof with a traditional spire structure.

Taking a closer look at the greenhouse roof and educational apiary proposal, ArchDaily reports that the firm says the design is meant to be “anchored in its time, turned toward the future and representing the stakes of our time,” and is titled, “Green For All of Us.”

Envisioned as a place of education, solidarity and biodiversity, the conceptual glass-walled addition would follow the shape of the previous roofing system. Where the wooden supports once stood, rows of flowers and trees would take place, with hopes to one day offer education about urban agriculture, horticulture and permaculture in addition to inviting youth for various educational workshops.

With the remains of the Cathedral’s “Forest”—the 1,300 ancient timbers used to build the roof and spire—Studio NAB proposes building planter boxes and facilities within the greenhouse, symbolizing the acceptance of the tragedy while also insinuating a correlation between old and new.

The spire is envisioned as a glass-walled apiary, inspired by some 180,000 bees and three beehives that survived the fire. The apiary plans to have beekeeping training and would continue the idea of productivity.

Foster + Partners have also expressed interest in the competition but have not prepared a proposal yet.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Asia Pacific; Commercial / Architectural; Commerial/Architectural; Competitions; Design; Design - Commercial; Designers; Durability + Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Historic Preservation; Historic Structures; Latin America; Maintenance + Renovation; Modernist architecture; North America; Z-Continents

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