SNOU Bureau Of Architecture And Urban Design
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"The Fragile Form"
The Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the world’s most famous masterpieces of medieval architecture, and its past is similar to the past of other cultural heritages: it passed through destruction, oblivion and rebirth periods in its history. The Notre-Dame that is being restored since the 19th century is one of the symbols of the heritage preserving idea that has become something common now in the 21st century.
Many pieces of architecture we can see every day are also our heritage, whether it is about buildings that are eight hundred or only fifty years old: each historical building tells us a story. Some of the historical buildings are under governmental protection, while others are being destroyed, damaged, reconstructed improperly or slowly disappear without proper care. The Notre-Dame fire brought the attention of the people around the world to the heritage around us.
As for the Notre-Dame future, no doubts it should be restored to its original state so that the future generations of people can see the cathedral in its initial appearance. However, the experts say the restoration can take up to two decades. What will happen to the cathedral during these years, how will it look? The idea of my design is to consider Notre-Dame Cathedral under restoration as an architectural concept reflecting the contemporary values and views.
The key element of the design is a temporal installation as a way to reflect the actual idea, to draw attention to the problem and to transform the perception of a space. Temporal installation concept usually supposes a well-expressed idea and experimenting with new materials and technologies.
It is proposed to place a temporal installation in the site of collapsed structures that will not impede construction works. The installation will make the cathedral shape looking complete; on the other hand, the fusion of the contemporary object with medieval architecture is intended to attract the people’s attention to architectural heritage problems throughout the world.
The lightweight sculpture will repeat the original roof and spire shapes, and its structure is supposed to look like a transparent crystal object, like a kind of illusion. The sculpture will represent spirit, memory, and history of the cathedral architecture and at the same time, it will symbolize fragility of the architectural objects and idea of cultural heritage preservation.
The installation is designed so that its materials and structure do not dominate on or distract the viewer from the cathedral architecture. The light, almost weightless materials of the sculpture in combination with rough centuries-old walls make them interact in a nuanced, delicate manner.
To reduce the load on the original cathedral the installation is made of light transparent polymer sheets. The construction will also cover the vaults and the interior during the rebuilding works. As the restored elements will be mounted, the installation parts will be disassembled: the transparent part of the roof will fade away piece by piece to give place to the original appearance of the cathedral.
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Verbruggen Architect & Locus Urban Design