At Notre-Dame, a Statement of Rebirth

Ravaged by a fire earlier this year, the historic cathedral receives a pop-up place of worship designed by Gensler.

While the 850-year-old Notre-Dame undergoes restoration, look no further than its adjacent Parvis Square as a new place of worship. Gensler unveils a temporary structure, called Pavilion Notre-Dame, for visitors to pray, reflect, and come together.

The new place of worship will honor the Gothic cathedral’s form while maintaining a respective simplicity, ensuring that the cathedral will remain the historic site’s focal point. The structure’s materials are at once ultra-modern and impossibly old: translucent polycarbonate clads walls to infuse an ethereal glow throughout, but infrastructure will primarily be charred timber—a nod to the fallen 800-year-old timber beams that succumbed in the blaze.

Inside, movable panels will sit behind the altar to offer clear views of the cathedral, whose dimensions will match those of the pop-up. Up to 800 guests can congregate inside for mass, but the structure will play host to much more than a sacred space. In addition to religious services, it will house exhibitions, performances, and marketplaces—all of which bring people together to create community.

“It’s important that the design stays true to, but doesn’t upstage, the cathedral,” says Duncan Swinhoe, regional managing principal at Gensler. “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. We hope this offers the people of Paris, and the world, a statement of hope and rebirth.”

(Photos courtesy of Gensler)

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