vincent callebaut proposes to unite notre dame's nave, roof, and spire with glass canopy

vincent callebaut proposes to unite notre dame's nave, roof, and spire with glass canopy

in the wake of the devastating fire that ravaged paris’ notre dame cathedral, a number of architects and designers have presented proposals suggesting how the church could be rebuilt. the response of paris-based architect vincent callebaut seeks to bring science, art, and spirituality together. inspired by biomimicry, the design hopes to establish a fairer symbiotic relationship between humans and nature.

vincent callebaut notre dame
all images courtesy of vincent callebaut architectures



titled ‘palingenesis’, a name derived from the greek word for ‘rebirth’, vincent callebaut’s design aims to unite the cathedral’s nave, roof, and new spire. from the four gables, the original geometry of the 10-meter-high attic has been respected. meanwhile, the building’s triangular section and steep 55-degree pitched roofs gradually stretch to shape a vertical spire.

vincent callebaut notre dame
the new wooden frame is covered with a three-dimensional crystal glass canopy



constructed with cross laminated timber beams pre-stressed with carbon fiber slats, the new oak frame seeks to use the minimum amount of material to ensure a low-carbon footprint while offering the greatest transparency. ‘transparency, sharing, and openness to our society’s development: such are the ideas conveyed by this new, diaphanous forest of notre dame, outlining the new face of the church in the 21st century,’ callebaut explains.

vincent callebaut notre dame
vincent callebaut’s design seeks to bring science, art, and spirituality together



the cathedral’s restoration would transform it into a positive energy building that produces more energy than it consumes. the contemporary, three-dimensional gothic stained glass roof produces all the electricity, heat, and passive ventilation that the cathedral might require by combining passive systems and advanced renewable energies.

vincent callebaut notre dame
the proposal unites the cathedral’s nave, roof, and new spire



the new wooden frame is covered with a three-dimensional crystal glass canopy subdivided into faceted diamond-shaped elements. these crystals consist of an organic active layer, made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, which absorbs light and transforms it into power. this energy, stored in hydrogen fuel cells, will be directly redistributed throughout the cathedral. to avoid any greenhouse effect, the structure’s crystalline scales open to allow a natural air flow towards the top of the spire which mimics a wind powered chimney.

vincent callebaut notre dame
the cathedral’s structural restoration explained in detail



devoted to contemplation and meditation, the project features a garden cultivated by volunteers and charitable associations to help the most deprived and homeless parisians. callebaut estimates that up to 21 tons of fruits and vegetables could be harvested and directly redistributed for free each year, with a weekly farmers’ market held on the cathedral’s forecourt.

vincent callebaut notre dame
the cathedral’s southern façade



‘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,’ vincent callebaut explains. ‘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.’



project info:


design: vincent callebaut architectures
name: palingenesis
location: paris, france
status: proposal

  • Maravilhoso “COMPOSÉE´´, O Gótico antigo e o “Gótico Moderno´´ em HARMONIA…parabéns!

    Albertino Zukeiran says:
  • Wooah !! Otherworldly meets Gothic design !!

    Deryle Thomas holmes says:
  • Soaring beauty, benefits environment, feeds the needy. My one question is about the effect on the acoustics.

    Lynn somerstein says:
  • This is absolutely beautiful! Magnificently bridging centuries, the past and present harmoniously united. I love it.

    Ingeborg Hoogstad says:
  • Too bad all that light will ruin the effect of the stained glass. But what the hell, they’ve been transcendently beautiful for a thousand years, tome to make room for something trendy unproven and looks like something from southern california

    Sharon doyle says:
  • I just couldn’t understand why people keeping trying to put glass on top of it????

    ANNA CHANG says:
  • I like the concept and the look. How does it address the vaulting below?

    Robert Anderson says:
  • I love it , I think it is a great opportunity to make a tragedy into a triumph.

    katrina spencer says:
  • Amazing. Will be a true Renaissance.

    Tere Benach says:
  • Looks impressive at first sight. Is actually extremely ugly.

    Putu says:
  • This is a testament to how socially inept so many modern design firms are. This completely disregards the history and aesthetics of the surrounding architecture and serves nothing more than a gimmick to be talked about in small circles of other “bold and progressive” design firms. There wasn’t even the slightest attempt to incorporate any French Gothic design elements and blend them with a more contemporary overarching theme, they just decided to throw a giant UFO on top of a burnt down cathedral and pass it off as good design. If this is any indication of what Notre Dame is going to look like they should leave it burnt down.

    Brendan says:
  • look its very pretty but the building needs restoring to the closest it can get not reinvented. its a symbol that has endured for over 800 years of history and to change it so drastically would mean losing a good chunk of that historical significance and symbolism.

    Dan Stretton says:
  • I love the idea. But I feel that we need to pay a little more homage to what was lost in terms of the design. Maybe not as much glass, more thicker wooden arches within the glass. Also, with the amount of water needed to sustain the vegetation, will we have to make structural changes to the historic building below? That I hope is done, without taking away from what the building is now.

    Naila Shamsi says:
  • any around the world are calling for Notre Dame to be rebuilt as a modern church since Christianity “alienates” the many cultures that “enrich” Europe. The highest creations of Medieval civilization are “offensive” to modern tastes and promote “superstition” and “racism”. The fight to rebuilt Notre Dame as a Catholic Cathedral and not a secular auditorium now begins and it will decide if the loathsome blandness of secular Globalism triumphs over all or if there is a hope for Western Civilization to experience a rebirth of spiritual beauty and confident faith in God and Heaven. If Notre Dame is rebuilt in a modern style, within a century it will be torn down and replaced by a mosque.

    Joe Nash says:
  • It is a Catholic Cathedral and not an airplane terminal. If it is rebuilt according the fashions of modern architecture it will be torn down within a century and replaced with a mosque because the soul of what we call “France” will be dead.

    Joe Nash says:
  • Nope. The interior looks like the lobby of a bank in Dallas, Texas, the exterior like a thermometer.

    Ethne Clarke says:
  • What have we said so, so many times before. Glass is a crutch. Plus, this is a restoration. Not an art project.

    Jeff says:
  • What’s gone is gone, wasteful to try and recreate the loss. This will be a reminder that nothing is permanent, value what you have at the time, move on, be creative and adapt

    Mary says:
  • This is absolutely beautiful, please build it!

    Gary Papouschek says:
  • Although I was open to an alternative material such as glass to replace the former roof I find this particular option to be an overstatement. There is simply too much happening with this design and it is in conflict with the enthusiastic architectural origins of the Cathedral itself. Nice try but it doesn’t work!

    Stephen Forte says:
  • I love the idea of roof garden for public gallery which gives Birdseye view of the Paris city.

    Grace THAN-LU says:
  • I think this design unites the Gothic original structure and incorporates a futuristic view of what will come. We need to remember Notre Dame has been rebuilt before…this isn’t the first time.

    Richard Hajjar says:
  • Amazing design…that said are we dealing with energy saving glass, recycled material, water and heat absorbing materials with self cleaning system, fire proof….etc? The Gothic construction must be considered in future planning and reconstruction for future generations…. least we miss the point….’the heart of Paris, France’ restored with new technic & old glory! Viva la France!!

    E. Terrelonge-GriffithdeFranke says:
  • The real challenge here is not to redesign but to rebuilt it as close to the original. The new look will just be another George Pompidou Center orthe Pyramid of Louvre. It will be the talk of the town for a while and then wait for another new thing to be excited about. We’re like children with short attention span. otherwise, just leave it partly charcoal — not partly Lego.

    Bernie J. says:
  • I’d say take away the trees in the drawing, see what you got left in the presentation. Plant them out side where they belong. A green space doesn’t belong on the top of this Cathedral. What’s next LED lights changing colours at night?

    Al Strickland says:
  • this is a magnificent design, and totally French in concept. people think that the French want to keep the old old, and eschew the new, but that is so not true! one only has to see the Pompidou Center and the Louvre pyramid to appreciate the modernity that the Parisians adore. even the Eiffel Tower was roundly criticized before its construction, but now no one can conceive of Paris without it. no, this would not negate the rose windows!

    Judy Adkins Hill says:
  • only if its made of dragonglass.

    u says:
  • Too modern and American style. I love modernity and contemporary architecture but this design does not look appalling and provoke me a sense that something is not right. Please present other options.

    Elizabeth says:
  • I will simply second the comments of Sharon, Brendan, and Joe. UGLY, no respect for history, what the heck were they thinking (love the UFO, Dallas Bank and thermometer references!)

    Todd Williams says:
  • A brilliant design solution that reflects our ‘zeitgeist’. It combines perfectly the past and the present. It will become another iconic piece of architecture much like the glass pyramid at the Louvre. Timeless.
    I hope this design gets approved.

    Ted Sulisto says:
  • There is an additional idea worth considering. Rather than votive candles to send prayers heavenward the faithful could purchase tiny tree seedlings of endangered species and those would be replanted in appropriate areas of the world. Notre Dame would become an instrument and inspiration in support of the Paris Climate Accord and in support of what Pope Francis has proposed in this regard. I truly believe that Holy Mother Mary would bless such an initiative for a cathedral that is named to honor her.

    Roy Stacy says:
  • Beutiful project! Harmony.

    JakubKudrna says:
  • Just restore it, the way it was anything else would be a crime against god

    Nate B says:
  • Amazing ! Absolutely love it! best of the design proposals I’ve seen.

    Kevin Skroch says:
  • I read some saying how this design would detract from the beautiful stain glass windows. Has the same people considered what it would look like under a full moon with the moonlight pouring through the stain glass windows? How’s heavenly to me!!

    Don Guterwill says:
  • The old stipple was in conflict with Gothic Stile of Notre Dam. New proposal is not approving conflict of styles.
    It is better to use pyramid roof, which could be glass or part glass and would not have a conflict.

    Arthur Adamov (Architect) says:
  • Absurd, pretentious and ugly greenwashing, the wind turbine is missing !

    Olivier Darmon says:
  • A mall or a bank lobby, maybe. The purpose of a church is not to promote a better symbiosis between nature and man…there are plenty of places to do that. A church should point to God, either in the mission and activities of those who inhabit it — my church happens to be an old restaurant, and at first glance looks like one. But the design of a cathedral was meant to awe and direct the person inside of it to a greater eternal and transcendent Truth; that’s its first goal. If you’re rebuilding that, you strive for that. If you want a lesson in ecology instead, and call it something else, and all can agree it’s no longer Christian church. This appears to me, not by any stretch a trained architect or historian, to be architectural syncretism.

    Jonathan Kratz says:
  • ha – what a joke. this isn’t restoration, but something new slapped on to an old structure. don’t like it.

    Rob A Roy says:
  • I guess the bottom line is whether this should be a restoration or a re-interpretation; all bearing in mind the social-economic-climatic issues facing us today.

    ChrisDx says:
  • Get over it people and read the details everyone. It is a brilliant plan! The original burnt down, cannot be copied as it was. This adds a whole new dimension to a magnificent cathedral rising like a phoenix into a modern space age. I absolutely love it!

    Janis Larsen says:
  • With the hope that we can agree to disagree (for now anyway), a pure travesty Dad, to may way of thinking. A church is a place for likeminded people to go inward and toward the spiritual aspects of life, it’s not about pizzazz. “Make « yourself » a light unto this world ».
    And about the trees ? no trees are going to survive, this is just a band-aid idea. Look first to the soil, the air, the water. And perhaps best to plant the seedlings nearby the place where they will be planted, hmm ?
    Sorry Dear, love you and love trees. Ed

    JANE Edna FLANNERY says:
  • Finally the spire is proportional to the building. The earlier spire was dwarfed by the scale of the building.I like the idea of fruit trees under the glass canopy to feed the poor rather than being a setting for the coronation of that dictator a Napoléon. After all ,feeding the poor is s Christian virtue. The history of Notre Dame was always about change.In 1220 they knocked down a wall they just built in order to add more stained glass windows.It went from a four story to a three story building. They also made changes to the transepts by using the Rayonnant Gothic style in vogue at that time. In the 19th century they added that dumbass spire I will never miss.

    Joseph marcucilli says:
  • As one who studied Architecture for seven years, and worked in the field for decades, all I can say is I like it — but, I’d prefer seeing most, or at least some (perhapps in several areas) of the “roof’ floor” area open and the church interior exposed directly to the glass roof to allow the light in, and increase the parishioners perception of feeling and being closer to God when in the Cathedral.

    David Bingham says:

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