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Architects Want to Rebuild Notre Dame With a Nursery for Bees and a Rooftop Pool

We have some thoughts on these redesigns.

In April, the Church of Notre Dame experienced significant damage after a fire broke out. While the cause has yet to be (fully) determined, prosecutors say it could’ve been started by a lit cigarette or an electrical malfunction. Naturally, talks of the rebuilding process are underway and there are some thoughts as to whether the structure should simply be restored or feature new, shall we say, controversial facets. Let’s take a look at what a few architects have made headlines for with their proposed ideas.

These Should Remain on the Sketch Pad 

“The Flame,” by Mathieu Lehanneur

As a callback to the fire itself, this French designer has proposed to tack on a giant flame made out of lava stone complete with a golden finish. While further details are sparse, this suggestion seems slightly inappropriate and, per the concept design, stunning in all the wrong ways.


“A Foolish Folly,” by Kiss the Architect

While we’re actually fans of this studio’s Instagram, their surrealist design feels like something Nicola Tesla may have dreamed up during Happy Hour (and that’s not a compliment). The addition’s meant to be a tribute to the monument, but also seems to be open to interpretation—the caption tacked onto its ‘gram debut reads “Spire me back.” Also, a foolish folly also translates to “a foolish madness,” so there you go.

A Russian “Rib,” by Tara Sovtho

With no particular reference to the church itself (or anything, really), this architect’s proposal suggests a series of connected “ribs” that span the structure and, when they meet in the middle, they form an ascending needle. It’s inspired by traditional Russian buildings, which doesn’t quite blend with the rest of Notre Dame’s (original) structure.

A Rooftop Pool, by Ulf Mejergren Architects

That’s right, this Swedish studio wants to build a large swimming pool—in the shape of a cross, no less—which is meant to encourage mediation and reflection to the public. Removed from the relatively recent restoration, the building’s apostle statues would be repositioned and act as guardians (one might say “lifeguards”) to the pool. What?

Hey, Wait! This Isn’t Half Bad! 

The team at Studio Nab wants to convert the roof into a greenhouse that more or less would resemble the church’s original silhouette, but also reflect current issues, like the preciousness of this planet’s natural resources. The structure would house orchids and ecology workshops, while the needle would be home to a beehive. Kinda cool.

And the Best Idea?

The original design! Look, there’s a reason Notre Dame is such an iconic landmark and part (most?) of that reason is its architecture. It’s one of the best examples of French Gothic design in the world, yet its stained glass windows and variety of sculptures throughout echo Romanesque architecture. Let’s not mess with that. The best time to visit is early morning when the cathedral is brightest and the crowds have yet to arrive.

INSIDER TIPTake time to appreciate the building (specifically, its flying buttresses) by posting up at Square Jean-XXIII, the garden behind the cathedral. At night, a boat ride on the Seine also provides a stellar look at the structure.


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