Visitors to Notre-Dame could soon have a new place to pray.
International architecture and design firm Gensler has just unveiled plans to create a temporary structure right next door to the iconic Paris cathedral, which was severely damaged in a fire last April. To be located in the cathedral’s Parvis Square, the Pavillon Notre-Dame will become an alternate space for visitors to worship and reflect while the 850-year-old structure is being restored. Though it’s still in the conceptual phase, the temporary space could come to fruition within the next six months—that is, if French President Emmanuel Macron approves it.
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To avoid competing with the legendary Gothic structure, the Pavillon is decidedly modest. Rectangular in shape, it will be supported by wooden beams and covered in translucent polycarbonate walls which will allow the sun’s natural light to illuminate the space by day.
“It is important that the design is true to, but doesn’t upstage, the cathedral. We wanted to strike a balance between a structure that invites the community yet can be transformed to become a reflective and spiritual haven when mass is celebrated. We hope this offers the people of Paris, and the world, a statement of hope and rebirth,” Duncan Swinhoe, Regional Managing Principal at Gensler, said in a release.
That theme of rebirth will also be carried through in the materials used: Gensler plans to construct the Pavillon primarily out of charred timber. Charring wood is one of the oldest and most effective ways to protect it from fire. It also symbolizes the more than 1,300 individual beams that were ravaged in the fire.
The makeshift Pavillon will mirror Notre-Dame’s configuration to offer visitors a sense of familiarity, and it can accommodate up to 800 people in each mass service. Moreover, the open design means that the space can serve a myriad of functions, from exhibitions and farmers markets to live performances.
Rather than submit the design in a formal competition, Gensler offered it as a gift to the city of Paris. If it gets the green light, the Pavillon Notre-Dame will be available to locals and tourists alike until the cathedral is back in action. Qu’est-ce que vous pensez, Monsieur Macron?
Check out more pictures of the Pavillon Notre-Dame below: