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Mpumelelo Zulu

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris, a symbol of French history, stands center stage above the Seine River and can be seen from all directions is a standing relic that takes you back to France’s days of GLORY. Under the reign of King Louis VII, France was beginning to be a Dominant nation in Europe and growing ever stronger. It was a time where the society put God first in their lives through the discipline of Catholicism and outside the church the nation was buoyant, aspirational and had firmly placed themselves in the world. Hence most public buildings commissioned in that era were STATEMENT BUILDINGS that expressed those feelings. All Architectural elements of that era were innovative and defied the norms. The main architectural character that underpinned French Gothic architecture “was the vertical and aspiring tendency being accentuated by great internal height, high pointed arches, high-pitched roofs, numerous spires, pinnacles, flying buttresses and tall windows to allow sunlight to enter into the cathedral.”(Fletcher 363).THE GREAT BLAZE silenced the Cathedral of Notre Dame, it destroyed the spire, the roof, the central rib vault, the rib vault on the western side of the central rib vault along the nave and the rib vault on the North-facing transept. As stated earlier, the Cathedral of Notre Dame was a STATEMENT BUILDING and THE GREAT BLAZE took that away and left it silent unable to make a STATEMENT.Could the dignity of Cathedral of Notre Dame be restored and make it a STATEMENT BUILDING once again? The proposal is an intervention that aims to express the Cathedral of Notre Dame’s STATEMENT of aspiration and power through today’s architectural lens. To avoid alienating the intervention from the cathedral below, the intervention imitates the cathedral’s former roof and spire in terms of their location on the cathedral and their composition. The construction technology proposed for the intervention are architectural innovations of today. The high-pitched roof and spire comprised of two layers. The first layer being a complex single-layer space frame structure that make-up the high-pitched roof and hold up the spire and all of this sits on top of the wall plates of the cathedral. The single-layer space frame structure consists of cylindrical tubular members connected to one another by nodes with cladding above it. The cladding of choice on the edges of the high-pitched roof are clear white panels and as you get closer to the spire and the spire itself, the cladding of choice turns to crystalline glass panel. The crystalline glass panels on the high-pitched roof and spire are fortuitously above the voids left by the collapsed rib vaults. In this proposal, the rib vaults are restored as they were but the stonework in between are left out, in their place are single-layer space frame structures that do the same job that the stonework would have done, which is to help carry the load from the roof down whilst opening the interior of the cathedral to the heavens. This intervention like a Phoenix rises from the ashes of its predecessor. It restores the cathedrals dignity and gives it a place in today’s world so that it can make a STATEMENT once again.

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