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Despite the tragedy, a white canvas waits above the ancient building. It is a new opportunity to enhance the main symbolic and architectural aspects of the cathedral without denying the tradition that Notre Dame represents to the French people and the world. Our proposal is first to allow public circulation into the rooftop, creating a new Belvedere to the city. Second is to create a space dedicated not only to the memory and the history of the building but also to the future. The extinct roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral had three main elements: the spire, the mansard, and the cross. The spire was the taller element, which identified the building afar. The cross is the symbol of Christianism. The mansard stood as a compositive and functional structure.With minimalist aesthetics, the proposed space contrasts with the original gothic building. The spire was a city landmark and it is mandatory to keep it as an iconic element. Here this element gets even taller as its base gets wider and encompasses the central space to the public.Steel is the structural material. It is lighter, slender, and more resistant compared to wood. Structural glazing panels provide finish to the new space with opaque, translucent, and transparent glasses, which define regions with different degrees of natural light towards the interior. At the created rooftop, people will walk through a wide cross-shaped space with permanent and temporary exhibitions. At the edges, people will see clear glazed spaces with terrific views of blessed Paris. The cross, at the same place as the burned one, stands above the prominent edge of the roof with a public balcony just below.And the question: Why do not rebuild? Our opinion is that newer constructive solutions would prevent future similar events. Furthermore, replicating the burned shape with different materials would seem dishonest since it will not ever be the same roof. The magnitude of the disaster, after many years of preservation, deserves to stay in the memory of the building and the humanity. There is no need to rebuild the collapsed roof except the feeling of loss that will never vanish away. Architecture must tell histories, transform cultural aspirations in spaces, and integrate the spirit of the time with the preserved history. Architecture, on such a monument, must be generous, vigorous, respectful, and innovative. Gothic cathedrals were the high-end buildings at their time and it is not wrong to say in this case, preserving is dealing again with high-end technology. Long life to Notre Dame!
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Perkins & Will
Andritsos Architect International