The People's Notre-Dame Design Competition

Boris Milanov and Cristina Gonzalez-Longo

Architectural Design and Conservation Research Unit (ADCRU) University of Strathclyde

United Kingdom

Designer's Description

NOTRE-DAME FOREVER

Despite the dramatic and devastating fire and the great loss of Eugene-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc’s spire, Notre-Dame has largely survived. There is no doubt that it should be conserved and transformed, keeping all its significance and taking the opportunity to add a publicly accessible roof space. The design of this space includes the didactic reconstruction of the original timber roof and the vaults beneath and a new spire inspired by the building and Viollet-le-Duc’s intervention. His spire, commissioned also as a result of a competition, has gone now but elements of the roof and the vaults beneath have been saved and, depending on condition, can be put back and/or used to inform the reconstruction of the missing elements. It is very important to conserve as much as possible the original roof elements, even if burnt, for generations to come. All the remaining elements of the original roof, which have now become relics, will be put back in place and missing parts will be reconstructed in a didactic way, making also sure that the new will appear clearly as such.

The memory of the spire is present in the overall form of the new spire and in a permanent exhibition within the roof space, above the transept. The statues of the Apostles and the rooster weathervane will also be put back into the new spire as an ‚An anchor‚ between the new and the old. The new hollow spire incorporates colored glass elements at different levels of the structure, resulting in a three-dimensional rose window over the transept and below the spire. The visitors will be able to experience the changing space at different times of the day and the year. The design allows at the base of the spire the view of its interior towards the sky, keeping very much in mind the ultimate aspiration of the gothic builders as well as the nature of the gothic space. The memory of the fire will also materialize with the more transparent spire as the internal light will be also visible from the outside. The design makes visible from the roof space and through the glass the statues of the Apostles, removed for conservation just days before the fire. This combination of conservation and new design will create a unique space and a moving experience: a re-interpretation of the sacred space in twenty-first century. The design maximizes contemporary technological capabilities in terms of structure, materials and fire protection and conserves and disseminates traditional craftsmanship. The development of the design will be an opportunity for further research and training so that increases knowledge and capacity for conserving historic timber roof structures, many times neglected because not visible.This competition has the scope to hear people‚

A voice and ideas after the political decisions taken. Informed by this, as it has happened historically in the building, qualified professionals should put together knowledge, skills and experience for this conservation design project. It will demonstrate that good design is a very effective way to conserve historic buildings.

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