The People's Notre-Dame Design Competition

Susana Weisleder Architect, Jorge Lucas Alvarez Architect and Historian, Leon Mayer-ISR Ingenieria Sismo Resistente, Marcos Antonio Caceda Architect Assitant

Merenfeld Weisleder LLC

United States

Designer's Description

Our proposal aims at the revival of a Cathedral made by man for man, a goal to be accomplished by way of its rooftop, which is its crown. On that rooftop, the memory of the people of Paris and its history are enshrined in a forest that integrates three elements of the applied arts: architecture, painting, and music. They enhance the sensory spirituality of those who walk through this sublime space that reveres their glorious past and, in the symbols present, their tradition. In the center stands the towering spike, which can be seen from the inside.

The development of our internal space seeks to be respectful towards the building and its use. It tries not to be invasive and preserves, to a large extent, the outward appearance which has coexisted with its city for 800 years.  Through the integration between the different arts, it seeks to exalt the most important moments of French culture: Goth-ic, Impressionism and sacred music. The mixture of those three primordial elements is the root of our design.

Inspired by Monet's work, we will build a walkway along the rooftop, floating above the stone vaults. Its sinuous curvature will make us feel like we are floating on water. The walkway will move along a structural grove, whose dense "branches" will get us lost in the feeling of being in a magical forest where the beams of light, just as in impressionist art, represent color and time. Inspired by Pérotin’s score for Alleluia, the holes interspersed throughout the roof and ceiling shape the matrix of these beams of light. They filter the sunlight for us, creating that magical space.

The original ledges will be transformed into balconies allowing visitors access to a breathtaking view of Paris, and as in a Via Crucis, twelve monitors will tell us the history of Paris through Notre Dame.

In the center, at the junction of the nave and the transept, we will generate a platform representing the Crown of Thorns, which recalls the sacrifice of Christ. There, in the center, an opening of light “invites” us on a spiritual pathway to heaven. Two spiral staircases, each spanning 91 steps, cross each other in a path led by the Apostles, which line each side of the stairs to inspire this journey towards God. The sum of the steps represents the 182 years it took to build Notre Dame.

The roof will be a replica of the original one, using the appropriate materials to preserve the building’s integrity.

The ridge will be finished with the intercalation of the Fleur de Lis and the Fasces, which symbolize the path between the Monarchy and the Republic.

To comply with the deadlines, our construction will be modular and serial, processed on land and assembled on its vault in blocks for greater speed.

Our intention, regarding the symbolism, is to represent the most sublime moment of the human soul’s elevation towards its encounter with God.

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