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Gensler’s temporary Pavillon Notre-Dame uses charred timber as its primary building material

What once destroyed Notre-Dame will now serve to make it stronger.

July 30, 2019 |

All renderings courtesy Gensler

Gensler has recently unveiled the design for the Pavillon Notre-Dame, which will provide a temporary place of worship in Parvis Square while the Notre-Dame Cathedral is being restored from the fire that nearly destroyed it just over 100 days ago.

The pavilion’s primary building material is charred timber. Not only will the charred timber provide the structure with added strength and durability, but it also symbolizes that what once destroyed Notre-Dame will now serve to make it stronger, according to Duncan Swinhoe, Regional Managing Principal, Gensler.



The pavilion acts as a sheltered nave and is reminiscent of the structural rhythms and forms of the Gothic cathedral. The roof is built of ETFE cushions and walls made of translucent polycarbonate, meaning the structure will be flooded with natural light. 

Movable panels behind the altar allow for a full view of Notre-Dame. Rotating panels at the ground floor can be positioned to open or close the edge of the structure to mirror the configuration of the cathedral for mass services, or they can be moved to open up the space for its other potential uses as a marketplace or for performances.

“It is important that the design is true to, but doesn’t upstage, the cathedral,” Swinhoe said. “We wanted to strike a balance between a structure that invites the community yet can be transformed to become a reflective and spiritual haven when mass is celebrated.”


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