8 Contemporary Spire Designs For Notre-Dame's Reconstruction


8 Contemporary Spire Designs For Notre-Dame's Reconstruction

In the wake of the tragic fire which partially destroyed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, the French government has started to think about how to move forward. French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe has recently told journalists the government would be putting out an international call for architects around the world to propose their ideas regarding how to reconstruct the roofline and the iconic spire which dramatically collapsed during the fire.

Instead of sticking with tradition, he reportedly said that France was not looking for a repeat of what was, but instead “a new spire that is adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era.” Given the global attention the fire has received and the incredible chance to work on such a historic building, it should not be too difficult to attract high-quality proposals.

8 Contemporary Spire Designs For Notre-Dame's Reconstruction

Notre-Dame Cathedral prior to the April 15, 2019 fire. (Photo: Stock Photos from V_E/Shutterstock)

Even before this announcement, architecture firms and design studios across the world have been publishing their concepts for Notre-Dame’s new spire. Although they acknowledge the difficulties of balancing the old and the new, most seem to agree that the church needs to move forward with the times, as it did when construction was necessary in the past. Several modern designs still pay homage to Notre-Dame’s history but use contemporary materials for a decidedly modern look. Take a look at some creative Notre-Dame concepts proposed thus far by architects from around the world.

1) Norman Foster (UK)

Acclaimed architect Norman Foster is one among the most prominent names to publicly throw his hat into the ring after he announced his intentions in an interview with The Times. His light and airy proposal calls for a roof and spire formed from crystal glass and stainless steel. Foster, maybe most well-known for The Gherkin in London, applauded authorities for being open-minded with the construction proposals.

“In every case, the replacement used the most advanced building technology of the age,” he shared with The Guardian. “It never replicated the original. In Chartres, the 12th-century timbers were replaced in the 19th century by a new structure of cast iron and copper. The decision to hold a competition for the rebuilding of Notre-Dame is to be applauded because it is an acknowledgment of that tradition of new interventions.”

2) AJ6 Studio (Brazil)

Alexandre Fantozzi (@alexandre_fantozzi) on

Alexandre Fantozzi of São Paolo-based AJ6 Studio presented a stunning design that pays homage to Notre-Dame’s historical stained glass. Lights would beautifully illuminate the glass roof and spire in the evening, creating a kaleidoscope of color in the night sky.

“In Gothic [architecture] there is the connection of the earth to the sky, and inside the Cathedral, the natural illumination multiplies in colors through the filter of the cover in stained glass,” he explained.

3) Godart + Roussel Architects (France)

Godart + Roussel Architectes (@godart_roussel_architectes) on

French architects Godart + Roussel have also suggested a glass roof. However, their spire is quite different than others. An elegant, minimalist spire would rise into the sky, giving a nod at what once existed but without trying to replace it. Keenly aware that a contemporary construction could face public opposition, they—like several architects—are pondering the right outcome for Notre-Dame.

“It is terrifying to realize that even the greatest masterpieces are not imperishable,” the firm writes. “How can a work that has required hundreds of years of work fly into the skies of Paris in a few hours? In addition to the legitimate questions of protection and prevention systems that we are entitled to ask, it is up to us today to know how to revive this architectural gem that is the identity of the most visited city in the world. As architects, we are obviously sensitive to the project of its reconstruction, but a question arises: should it be done again the same?”

4) David Deroo (England/France)

DerooDavid (@deroodavid) on

This sleek, modernized version of Notre-Dame is what artist and architect David Deroo envisions. The undulating forms of the roofline would remind us of the destroyed roof, while the materials would provide a modern flair. “The future project should be balanced between the old and contemporary architecture,” explained Deroo.

5) Studio NAB (France)

8 Contemporary Spire Designs For Notre-Dame's Reconstruction

Studio NAB

Studio NAB’s innovative design would turn the roof of Notre-Dame into an educational greenhouse. The spire would function as an apiary. The sustainable design would integrate the cathedral further into the community. By creating a space for the disenfranchised for professional development opportunities to emerge, as well as workshops for local kids, their vision for space is one of the most radical.

6) Studio Fuksas (Italy)

Massimiliano e Doriana Fuksas (@fuksas_architects) on

Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas of Studio Fuksas has created a modern concept which pays homage to the classic Gothic architecture of the cathedral. Their high spire was inspired by a Baccarat crystal, with the entire structure made to be illuminated in the evening. In that way, Notre-Dame will remain a clear beacon of Paris, day and night. Fuksas declared that the crystal spire should be seen as “a symbol of the fragility of history and spirituality,” while the light is “a symbol of immateriality.”

7) Vizum Atelier (Slovakia)

Vizum Atelier (@vizumatelier) on

Slovakian Vizum Atelier has envisioned a decidedly unique vision of Notre-Dame. In their proposal, a lightweight spire is crowned by a beam of light which reaches toward the heavens. The move to connect heaven and earth would be a rebirth of Notre-Dame while still remembering that “during Gothic times builders tried to reach the sky.”

8) Alexander Nerovnya (Russia)

Alexander Nerovnya (@alex_nerovnya) on

Russian architect Alexander Nerovnya falls in line with several other designers for his glass-topped cathedral. Yet, his concept features a spire that more carefully looks like the destroyed architectural feature. Like other architects, Nerovnya believes that this is a chance to move toward the future instead of trying to replace what was lost.

“We know the Cathedral was built from the 12th to the 14th centuries. But we also know that some changes to the design were made in the 13th, 14th, 18th, and 19th centuries. Things change,” he writes. “Notre-Dame will never be the same, no matter how well it’s repaired. So why don’t we use all our knowledge and architectural achievement to make it better? When people come to see the Cathedral, they will feel a powerful connection to the history seeing the ancient and the modern parts together.”


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Thinking Humanity: 8 Contemporary Spire Designs For Notre-Dame's Reconstruction
8 Contemporary Spire Designs For Notre-Dame's Reconstruction
In the wake of the tragic fire which partially destroyed Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, the French government has started to think about how to move forward.
Thinking Humanity
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