by Zohra KhanJul 27, 2022
Enough and more design proposals, some practical, some not so, have been imagined and circulated for the rebuilding of the beloved Notre Dame cathedral top in Paris, which was destroyed in fires in April 2019. Adding on to the long series of conceptual designs for the same, Amsterdam-based architecture studio Trnsfrm suggests an alternative solution, which envisages a sculptural stained glass roof twisting into a modish spire, glittering atop the Parisian skyline.
French President Emmanuel Macron has previously stated that the original 19th century Gothic design by French restoration architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc will be rebuilt the way it stood before. The restoration is aimed to be completed before the 2024 Paris Olympics.
“Notre Dame is one of the most iconic cathedrals of the world; it is a magical place of worship whose beauty has been much adored for over 800 years; a structure where the limits of human ability have been explored; an ingenious building that provides space for massive stained glass windows,” says Menno Baas, lead architect, Trnsfrm. These were the characteristics that compelled their design solution. Trnsfrm shares that the firm wants to keep the structure as a place of worship, and proposes to replace the destroyed roof and spire with a modern, sculptural one made of coloured glass.
The sculptural roof is created out of undulating, coloured glass that is secured in a steel frame, reminiscent of stained glass windows, arguably one of the most important aspects of Gothic cathedrals, which illustrated Biblical stories and threw numinous light into the dark insides of monumental churches. Sunlight hits the curved glass during the day and disperses multi-coloured, mystic rays into the cathedral’s insides. At night, the interior lighting creates an opposite effect. “It becomes a ‘glow in the dark’ sculpture sparkling above the rooftops of Paris,” shares Baas.
The element draws from the stained glass windows depicting images of virgin Maria, seen across cathedrals of the world. It is also partially inspired by the huge curved roof of the New Basilica of our Lady Guadalupe in Mexico City designed by the late architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, along with the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele in Milan. “Here, a huge roof structure embraces its people,” adds Baas.
“I have always been in love with Paris. From a young age, I would visit here with my grandmother and take many pictures, and hang them on my wall. To see the images of a burning Notre Dame really shocked me,” reminisces Baas. This connection is what primarily drove Baas to design this architectural concept, regardless of whether it would ever be realised, despite knowing what the French government’s decision was.
“One realises their humbling place in the universe and the mighty scheme of things as they encounter the powerful, immense architecture of a cathedral that reinforces a belief that there exists a greater power. I hope my design stimulates that feeling,” concludes Baas.
Whether or not this speculative design accomplishes a radical, restorative and new age piece of architecture, is up to you to decide and debate on. Let us know what you think of this alternative solution of restoring the destroyed roof and spire of the Notre Dame cathedral in Paris, France.