The People's Notre-Dame Design Competition

Tong Samuel Ho Yin, Pau Hiu Wing, Yiu Chi Ho

Hong Kong

Designer's Description

Notre-Dame cathedral is a symbol, a collection of memories, a witness to history, and a monument that have affected the people globally. Ever since the fire, many architectural practices have proposed to redesign and reinterpret the damaged roof, replacing it using modern technology. Our design proposal however aims to enhance the space of worship for sacred reflection and contemplation by inserting a new roof on top of the ruins as a subtle sculptural addition of the landscape, in complement to the character of the existing cathedral, reflected in its form and use of materials. The cathedral is notable for its collection of stained glass windows; many praised the three Rose Window as one of the greatest masterpieces of Christianity. This design draw on the tradition of light as a sacred phenomenon, taking advantage of the stained glass to allow sufficient lighting deep into the interior spaces, creating an illuminated roof. Comprised by a grid of wooden poles that ascend upwards to form layered terraces, this design capitalizes on the construction of a light, delicate and semi-transparent structure, which creates a geometric shape mimicking the original roof prior to the fire. This structure is composed of timber components, which interlocks, forming a cross at every intersection, representing the symbol of Christ. From the vantage point of pedestrians on streets, the seemingly translucent architecture appears as a calm, still object, which encourages people to explore the site in new and diverse ways. Only upon entering the cathedral will one truly experience the power of stained glass lighting and the atmosphere it produces. Careful placement of the glazing creates distinct changes in the pattern of natural lighting throughout the day, enhancing visitor experience, as though entering into a corridor of enlightenment. Striving for a harmonious combination of architecture, technology, history and spatial experience, this design outlines what the structure was before and what it can become after the fire, deriving from architectural elements deeply rooted in the construction of Notre-Dame, in creating an illuminated roof, which reactivates as a beacon in Paris.

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