Soltani+LeClercq has designed a translucent membrane to cover Notre-Dame Cathedral while reconstruction takes place.
The New York architecture studio envisions covering the cathedral, which lost its spire and roof in a fire on 15 April , in a veil that will obscure views of the building as it is rebuilt.
“The entire envelope is shrouded in a diaphanous membrane on which the activities within will be registered in silhouette,” said Ali Soltani, co-founder of Soltani+LeClercq .
“The cathedral can be perceived, though faintly visible. It will rather be felt as though in the transitional stage of a butterfly in chrysalis,” he told Dezeen.
The mesh membrane, which would be supported on a scaffolding-type structure, would be used to create a box that completely covers the cathedral. A cruciform shape would be cut from the mesh to mark the loss of the roof and the spire.
Within the structure a series of lifts, stairs and ramps would be built to allow visitors to observe the reconstruction as it takes place.
This structure would be similar to the chainmail shed that Carmody Groarke recently built around Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House near Glasgow, Scotland.
“We designed it as a matter of pure feeling, a need. And to offer an alternative view, a framing, and engage the public in the process,” said Soltani.
“The core is restricted to the construction of the roof and spire, and the outer ring consisting of a scaffolding structure within where the general public can witness the restoration of the cathedral, and thus Paris, in an immersive experience.”
The scaffold and its membrane could also have images projected onto it during special occasions in Paris, or key dates within the reconstruction as “a multimedia calendar of its restoration against the backdrop of the city”.
Soltani designed the veil to represent the history and process of development of the cathedral, which dates back to the 12th century.
“Metaphorically, Notre-Dame has been veiled in a historical process in its entire 850 years of existence, formed and transformed by it, albeit an invisible one,” he explained.
“Seen in this way the architectural object, the city, and the collective body that has cared for it are inseparable. We wanted to impart the unity of this procedure as an embodied whole enveloped by a translucent membrane.”
Since Notre-Dame was severely damaged by fire there has been a discussion over how best to reconstruct the landmark with French president Emmanuel Macron promising it would be rebuilt .
French prime minister Edouard Philippe announced that there would be a competition to rebuilt the spire prompting numerous architects and designs to create alternatives to rebuilding the 19th century spire .
However, the French Senate recently passed a bill saying Notre-Dame Cathedral must be rebuilt as it was before the fire .
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