The People's Notre-Dame Design Competition

Clayton Kenneth Nickum

United States

Designer's Description

Notre Dame Cathedral RoofNarrativeInstead of a commercialization in the wake of tragedy, this proposal takes art as the remedy for this particular tragedy. The fire at Notre Dame Cathedral was a terrible travesty; while an accident it was, it is imperative to not victimize the monument. In Victor Hugo’s novel The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the character Frollo claims ‘the book will kill the building’; the book being the reproduced bible, and the building being Notre Dame Cathedral. As an unfortunate foreshadowing, a realist point of view is to look at current trends to see what exactly this could have meant. Many historians and literature critics have claimed that this quote written by Hugo speaks of how mass reproduction will kill humanity’s need for expression through its structures. While the prophetic Hugo was many years off, it was a factual foretelling none the less and now the world is devoid of one of its greatest monuments with a collapsed roof. Mass reproduction in literally every creative field including architecture, literature, filmography, art, etc. has finally fulfilled the rather odd prophecy. Notre Dame does not need a reproduction of the original roof, but rather a recreation. Through the use of the original roof design, the new Notre Dame arises, with its cross lifted and pulled towards the heavens, returning to the original pedagogy and parti to which the cathedral was initially built. Returning to the foundations is the only option, and this is only possible by following the literal force lines from the flying buttresses, using the exact vocabulary of yesterday and injecting it with the new dialects of tomorrow. A new chapel will be added to the area of wreckage, accessible by clergy members to pray, leaving many of the openings bare for them to view their congregation from the space above. At night the new structure and glazing will light up subtly to not distract from the already scintillating lights of the original chapel. From the chapel, wood glulam beams will replace the original wood structure, while the exterior tiling will be built according to the original design. The cross which has been lifted and pulled to the sky will now reveal the newly added glazing and stone structure. This new design does not attempt to connect program to people, but art to the people of Paris, and the world. The new roof will be peeled back, revealing the light which pours in and out of the Catholic Church, while the new roof becomes the spire, calling all patrons to prayer. The very same stone walls which survived will continue to persevere, and this will be reflected in the new techniques of using liquid stone. The design intent is obvious: grasp the original cross and raise it to not only the city but to the entire world in shouting hymn of the permanence and beauty that is Notre Dame Cathedral. CKN

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