Belgian architect unveils pitch for ‘ecological’ Notre-Dame

Belgian architect unveils pitch for ‘ecological’ Notre-Dame

An architect from the Belgian city of La Louvière has unveiled his proposal to rebuild Paris’ iconic Notre-Dame Cathedral into a “resilient, ecological structure” complete with its own vegetable garden and energy-producing roof.

Vincent Callebaut reimagined the centuries-old cathedral, devastated by a fire last month, as an energy-efficient building, designed to produce more energy than it consumes, but also act as a source of food for “the most deprived and homeless Parisians.”

Callebaut, whose architectural firm is based in Paris, would mimic the cathedral’s signature gothic style with structure made up of glass, wood and “organic elements” capable of absorbing light and transforming it into power.

The cathedral’s spire would “counteract any greenhouse effect” by acting as a wind chimney.

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“This roof-spire in the cathedral attic provides a thermal buffer space, which accumulates hot air in winter to better isolate the cathedral, and vents with fresh air in the summer,” Callebaut’s proposal reads.

Lastly, an aquaponic garden in the middle of the cathedral would act as a “solidary urban farm,” which volunteers and charities would cultivate and which the La Louvière native estimates could produce up to “21 tons of fruits and vegetables” to be distributed freely each year.

The garden would also have an aesthetic purpose, and Callebaut imagined it could also be devoted to “meditation and contemplation.”

With his proposal for an "an exemplary project in ecological engineering," the Belgian-born architect becomes one of several to throw their hat in the ring in a contest to rebuild the 12th century cathedral — which French authorities are yet to announce.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times

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