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The nave roof
The old nave roof is replaced by a structure that externally appears almost identical to the previous roof during the day time. However, a series of ‘cut-outs’ are made where the metal roof is replaced with discreet rooflights that provide a subtle, patterned glow to the roof at night time.
Instead of converging at the bottom of the spire as the previous roof did, this design proposes that the roofs are cut back at right angles to the parapets to create a large, square semi-open viewing platform for public access. From this vantage point, visitors will be afforded views around the city and will be able to enter into any of the four roof spaces that can flexibly cater for public events - concerts, gallery spaces, cafes, perhaps a museum dedicated to the history of the cathedral. The central viewing platform will be surrounded by the 12 apostle statues that once graced the base of Viollet-le-Duc’s spire and that, fortunately, survived the fire.
The new spire forms the focus of the proposed design. Four slender steel members extend up from the ridge of the four roofs, converging at the exact height of Viollet-le-Duc’s 19th century spire. From the apex of the new spire, a delicate glass pyramid structure is hung below. This ethereal, ‘floating’ form provides weather protection to the visitors standing below on the viewing platform and is intended to be the iconic centre-piece of the redeveloped cathedral. The new spire is a modern, simple insertion that takes its cues from the ‘original’ spire; it is the outline of its predecessor.
The design proposes that the interior of the cathedral is rebuilt as it was before the fire - with two notable exceptions:
1. While the vaulted ceiling above the nave will be restored, an oculus will be introduced in place of the central keystone. Diffuse light will flood down into the cathedral through the circular opening. A delicate ‘inverted spire’ hanging from the opening will be illuminated from the light above, terminating directly above the heads of the visitors below. The opening provides a degree of connection between the interior of the cathedral and the roof/ spire above; it offers an intriguing snapshot of the levels above (when looking up from cathedral floor level) and when looking down into the cathedral below from the viewing gallery.
2. The fire destroyed part of the vaulted roof of the north transept. This opening will be retained, and a delicate glass insertion from ground level up through the damaged roof will provide a route up to the new public spaces at roof level. Access is set off from centre, maintaining views of the north rose window. Visitors will be afforded a tangible sense of the majesty and history of the building as they ascend up past the rose window and through the vast vaulted arches of the ceiling, terminating in the exciting new roof space.
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