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The Memory, Presence and Future

>The Memory, Presence and Future

Designers Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li have been announced as the winners of the people’s Notre Dame design competition organized by GoArchitect to spark debate regarding the redesign of the roof and spire of Paris‘ damaged cathedral. Open to entries from around the globe and voted for by the public, the initiative saw 226 proposals submitted from 56 different countries. The winning project, titled ‘Paris Heartbeat’, gives the gothic building a new mirrored roof and spire, announcing the intervention as a beacon of hope for the future of the city.

Considering the long history of Notre Dame, which has survived in the French capital for over 800 years, Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li have designed ‘Paris Heartbeat’ to ‘mark a new era’ for the cathedral. With this in mind, the winning proposal comprises of three main design features: a mirrored roof, a ‘paris time capsule’ and a ‘city kaleidoscope’. 

Here is how the authors describe their project: “The new spire is interpreted into poly-mirrors based on the classical proportions and octagonal geometry of original Viollet-le-Duc’s spire, gently reflecting the context together with the mirror roof. Every moment, the building will have a new look, matching the changing urban environment. A strong connection among the building, the city and the time has been established by the dramatic reflection.

A time capsule, designed to be open every half century, is floating at the top of the spire. The magnetic levitation high-tech installation keeps the memory for the past and reserves the space for future story. The spire’s tip, symbolizing the Paris heartbeat, moves rhythmically up and down breathing and beating together with the city.

The inside reflection of the tower spire creates a city kaleidoscope. The vibrant and colorful glass dyes the light while the double spiral structure expresses the shadow. The romantic beauty and rational logic of the Rose Window of Notre Dame is fully interpreted into our proposal in an artistic and tectonic way.

In the center of the kaleidoscope is the bottom spherical surface of the floating time capsule. Through the dramatic reflection, people can see the collage city around, with the portrait of themselves at the focal point. The space and time tangled together in this illusory space. Here, people remind, people confess, people pray. The new spire, functions as a religious symbol, provides an open answer to the belief and hope for everyone, and represents the memory, presence and future.”