Last April, Notre-Dame Cathedral, 850 years old, was badly damaged by the tragic fire that destroyed part of one of the most famous places of worship in the world, so the Gensler studio made a temporary proposal for its future visitors.
The project involves the construction of a pavilion that will have a frame made of carbonized the wood. Duncan Swinhoe, the director of the studio, explains that “Carbonized wood, which is one of the oldest and most effective methods of protecting wood from fire, also symbolizes that what once destroyed Notre-Dame will serve to make it stronger, thus expressing a message of rebirth and transformation”.
The pavilion will be built in the square in front of it and the most important aspect is that the project is as faithful and close to the cathedral as possible. The aim is to find a balance between a structure that invites the community but that can also become a reflective and spiritual refuge for the celebration of the functions of the church. The intention is also to offer the faithful and tourists around the world a declaration of hope and rebirth.
Functioning as a protected nave, the temporary structure recalls the structural rhythms and shapes of the Gothic cathedral. With a cover made of ETFE cushions and translucent polycarbonate walls, the temporary structure will be flooded with natural light, emphasizing the ethereal quality of the space while creating a visual relief.
Behind the altar, mobile panels will be installed to provide a complete view of Notre-Dame. Gensler’s design also includes ground level rotating panels that can be positioned to open or close the edge of the structure to reflect the configuration of the cathedral for mass services or be moved to seamlessly open space for shows or as a market.
Text by Elisa Scotti