The People's Notre-Dame Design Competition

Creative Blueprint Team

Creative Blueprint Architects

South Africa

Designer's Description

A RESILIENT INTERVENTION : A CONTEMPORARY GALLERY FOR GOTHIC ARCHITECTURE & RESEARCH FACILITYFrom disaster comes opportunity, and through opportunity comes new experiences.The devastating fires which engulfed portions of the Notre Dame Cathedral created an opportunity for the world to relook at the way we view historical buildings. The devastating fire stripped the roof and ravaged the crossing spire - exposing the interior to the elements. To functionally restore the structure, the intention is focused on not solely repairing the structure, but also re-envisioning the usage of its spaces.The adopted approach sees the current rendition as an additional layer to the history of the cathedral as opposed to a simplistic replication of what was lost. Hence a call to repurpose the roof level is inevitable. Re-programming the roof space unlocks social potential and thereby energises the level with new life.The intervention aims at retaining the significance of place and context whilst proposing a contemporary expression: the net result of which enhances the building’s social potential to encourage active participation with the urban fabric. Visitors have a new layer of the building to experience, one which creates a memory of the catastrophe through the partial re-appropriation of its structure from the past. Such a space creates an ideal location to exhibit the history of the cathedral, informing the general public of its significance as surviving Gothic Architecture.The self-supporting intervention references the cathedral’s flying buttresses and mimics the proportions of the existing towers, standing in contrast to the decorated cathedral and distinguishing itself as a respectful appendage to the historic monument.The access tower stands away from the building and along the riverbank edge, connecting itself to the roof level via a cylindrical glass tube. Situated along the pedestrian path, visitors enter therein and ascend to where the landing destination directs them through the portal above the large rose window entrance. The rhythmically ribbed transparent tube allows views onto the city and regulate the experience.Exiting the tunnel, visitors find themselves on an enclosed roof level housing a gallery and research archive dedicated to Gothic Architecture with access to a viewing deck that follows the profile of the building’s plan. Using the powerful idea of presence in absence, the void where the spire was located is celebrated in the space as an oculus serving two functions: allowing visitors to peek down the destroyed section into the cathedral and admitting fresh air and daylight into the interior spaces.In a tribute to the collapsed spire, dynamic light projections to animate the late-night skyline for commemorative displays are envisaged.

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