The original architects of the medieval Catholic cathedral on the Île de la Cité had a mission to build a monument to stand the test of time. As much as they envisioned the passing of the centuries, they probably never imagined all the events and the symbolism that would make Notre-Dame de Paris one of the most emblematic and recognizable buildings in the 21st century world. The cathedral's construction began in 1160 as its first cornerstone was set in the presence of King Louis VII and Pope Alexander III, (characters so historical that seem almost mythical now). The main aspects of the cathedral were largely complete by 1260, but Notre-Dame as we know was majorly restored by Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1864.
Viollet-le-Duc’s restoration began in 1844, ten years after the publication of Victor Hugo’s classic novel Notre-Dame de Paris (a.k.a. The Hunchback of Notre Dame), which he wrote in part to raise awareness of the cathedral’s decaying state. After the Napoleonic Wars, Notre-Dame was in such a state of disrepair that Paris officials actually considered its demolition. Can you imagine? It is strange to think city officials of their times wanted to strip Paris of their most emblematic monuments (the Eiffel tower was supposed to be taken down after its display at the 1889 world fair).
Approximately 12 million people visit Notre-Dame annually (meaning an average of 30,000 people every day), making it the most visited monument in Paris. Until the roof caught fire in 2019. It is important to mention this damage came about during a period of renovations. A renovation program proposed in late 2010 with an estimated cost of €100 million, including a €6 million budget for the cathedral's spire. These renovations began in late 2018. In the evening of April 15 2019 the cathedral sustained serious damage after burning for about 14 hours, including the destruction of the flèche (the timber spirelet over the crossing) and most of the lead-covered wooden roof above the stone vaulted ceiling. President Emmanuel Macron said approximately 400 firefighters helped to battle the fire in the same speech where he promised to restore the damages. A short time later, the idea of an international design competition for restoration proposals was mentioned by fire brigade official, Philippe Demay.
Restoration proposals came as fast as the internet allowed architects from several countries to submit all types of proposals. From a rooftop deck, to an ultra-light beam to be projected as replacement of the old spire, to a new colorful full stained-glass cover, even to a metallic structure representing a flame. You will find our selection of modern proposals below.
Which one would you have chosen and why?
(You can write your answer in the comment section below)
1- Proposal by Designer Mathieu Lehanneur
2- Clément Willemin, of French design company BASE Paris
3- Proposal by Belgian architect Vincent Callebaut
4- Proposal by Alexandre Fantozzi, of Brazil’s AJ6 I Arch Properties Design
5 - Proposal by Vizum Atelier, a Slovakian-based design company