Renowned green architect Vincent Callebaut has published his concept for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral. Callebaut is proposing a glass roof—a popular choice among architects—with a timber frame that gently slopes up to form the spire. Titled Palingenesis, which means rebirth, Callebaut’s Notre-Dame concept aims to unite spirituality, art, and science.
Callebaut has carefully considered the key parts of the cathedral’s Gothic architecture—nave, transepts, flying buttresses—and put them together in one clean line that sweeps toward the skies. In his proposed design, the original form of the attic is respected, but given new life. “How can we write the contemporary history of our country, but also that of science, art, and spirituality together?,” Callebaut muses. “For it is hardly enough to reproduce the past as it used to be; we must project ourselves towards a desirable future, conveying to the world the thirst for transcendence that propels human beings.”
In keeping with his sustainable principals, Callebaut has selected construction materials that leave a minimal carbon footprint. The frame is constructed with cross-laminated timber beams pre-stressed with carbon fiber slats, which also leave a level of transparency into the cathedral. Under Callebaut’s watch, Notre-Dame will also transform into a positive energy building thanks to the three-dimensional crystal glass faceted along the roof.
Formed into diamond shapes, the crystals have an organic active layer made of carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen, and oxygen. These elements absorb light and transform it into power that is stored in fuel cells to provide all the electricity and heating that the cathedral requires.
Similar to Studio NAB’s Notre-Dame greenhouse concept, greenery runs throughout the space. The heart of the Palingenesis project is the urban garden, which will not only be used for meditation and contemplation but also to produce 5.5 pounds of fruits and vegetables per square foot per year. The architects propose a farmers’ market to be held every week in front of Notre-Dame to redistribute the harvest.
“We advocate for an exemplary project in ecological engineering that feels true to its time and avoids a pastiche architecture that turns the city into an open-air museum,” Callebaut writes. “Circular economy, renewable energies, inclusive social innovation, urban agriculture, protection of biodiversity, without forgetting beauty and spiritual elevation: our reconstruction project feeds on such values to deliver a deep, conscious meaning.”
Vincent Callebaut’s Notre-Dame roof concept includes sustainable materials and a thriving urban garden.