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Notre Dame de Paris

Sheltering solution for the damaged cathedral

On 15 April 2019, a fire broke out beneath the roof of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. By the time it was extinguished, the building's spire and most of its roof had been destroyed and its upper walls severely damaged; extensive damage to the interior was prevented by its stone vaulted ceiling, which largely contained the burning roof as it collapsed.

We propose an elegant translucent temporary construction in ETFE air cushions, so the spiritual life of the Cathedral can be maintained. The roof needs no other function than the one it already had, a shelter for a miraculous monument so that liturgical services can take place. The arrow (la flèche) is now drawn through the oculus, where before, the crossing of the transept was located.

The cathedral can revive despite its tragedy, when the light shines through the destroyed arches. At night it gives the sky a soft glow through the translucent roof. 

The situation after the fire presents a challenge on several levels. First and foremost, because the roof was completely destroyed the cathedral had to be covered with tarpaulin as soon as possible to avoid additional damage due to bad weather conditions. Next, a structural analysis will have to point out which preservation works need to be done, without any delay, to avoid further degradation.

By this summer, a more extensive shelter will be installed, serving as a protective umbrella throughout the reconstruction period. This temporary shelter could also become a captivating architectural intervention, instead of a reproduction of the old roof in print. (Only after this has been done, will it be possible to consider whether a restoration  following the original plans is feasible and/or necessary.)
What is called temporary in this context ?

OOA proposes an ultralight structure, consisting of an aluminum frame with EFTE air cushions (translucent / transparent) (the ETFE system is composed of pneumatic cushions retained in aluminum profiles and supported by a light structure). This entirely self-supporting construction of tensioned cables and rods will position the provisional tower (the "arrow") – a three-dimensional representation of the plan of Violet-le-duc - against the Parisian sky again. The air cushions also refer to the original stone vaults concealed under the gable roof. The "arrow" is fixed using cables that stretch and pull it through the roof. The very space that saw the destruction of the stone vault will witness an interaction between the arrow and the interior, bringing forth a hybrid and ephemeral cathedral!

The entire construction is fully recyclable, combining new and old materials. All elements are assembled off-site to be assembled on-site in no time with minimal impact. The transparent air cushions can be shaded and illuminated.

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