Architects Propose a Giant Greenhouse For the Roof of Notre Dame Cathedral
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Architects Propose a Giant Greenhouse For the Roof of Notre Dame Cathedral

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By Lucy Wang
In the wake of the massive fire that engulfed the Cathedral of Notre Dame, Paris–based Studio NAB proposes replacing the damaged roof with a massive greenhouse.

Just days after a devastating fire consumed Notre Dame Cathedral’s roof and central spire, a heated debate has broken out over whether the 13th-century Gothic landmark should be restored or modernized. Firmly in the latter camp is Studio NAB—the Paris–based design practice has proposed topping the 856-year-old cathedral with a giant educational greenhouse.

In a bid to modernize the Notre Dame Cathedral while staying respectful of the French Gothic architecture, Studio NAB has modeled the greenhouse and apiary after the original roofline and spire.

In a bid to modernize the Notre Dame Cathedral while staying respectful of the French Gothic architecture, Studio NAB has modeled the greenhouse and apiary after the original roofline and spire.

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Envisioned as a beacon for education, solidarity, and biodiversity, this conceptual glass-walled addition follows the original silhouette of the collapsed roofline and central spire, yet provides new programming that the firm believes is more relevant to today's society.

According to ArchDaily, the firm says the design is meant to be "anchored in its time, turned towards the future, and representing the stakes of our time." Titled "Green For All of Us," the scheme calls for a multipurpose space where the community can learn about sustainable urban agriculture and beekeeping.

Studio NAB has reimagined the central spire as a glass-walled apiary for the approximately 200,000 honey bees on Notre Dame's roof that survived the fire thanks to the location of their hives on a sacristy roof below the main roof.

Studio NAB has reimagined the central spire as a glass-walled apiary for the approximately 200,000 honey bees on Notre Dame's roof that survived the fire thanks to the location of their hives on a sacristy roof below the main roof.

The central spire would be rebuilt into a glass apiary that expands upon Notre Dame’s three existing rooftop hives. The cathedral installed the hives in spring 2013 in an effort to fight declining bee populations, and the bees miraculously survived the fire.

The light and airy greenhouse would feature a gold-colored steel frame and glass panels. In addition to growing plants, it would also serve as an observation deck.

The light and airy greenhouse would feature a gold-colored steel frame and glass panels. In addition to growing plants, it would also serve as an observation deck.

In homage to Notre Dame’s intricate roof structure—dubbed "The Forest" after its 1,300 ancient timber beams sourced from primal forests—Studio NAB proposes reusing salvaged framework elements as planters and furnishings in the greenhouse.

To invite more designers into the conversation, France has launched an international competition for the reconstruction of the central spire. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, has also made the controversial and ambitious promise to rebuild the Notre Dame Cathedral within five years—just in time for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. 

Related Reading: €845M Pledged to Rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral After Devastating Fire