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Notre-Dame can be a place "where history and modernity meet," says architect Frank Liu

Frank Liu shares his inspiration and process behind his unique Notre-Dame design.

Frank Liu

Can you tell us a little about yourself?

My hometown is a small city named Ruzhou, located in Henan province,China. My university is Renai College of Tianjin University. My school is in the suburbs of Tianjin, where I studied for 5 years. I entered the university in September 2008 and graduated from university in June 2013.

After graduating from college, I worked in Tianjin for more than half a year, then I came to Shanghai in 2014 to find new opportunities.

What inspired you to enter the Notre-Dame design competition?

Before participating in the Notre Dame competition, I worked in some companies, participated in many types of projects. But many projects are not recognized.

I have been working this way until I saw the news of the Notre Dame fire in April this year. And then I saw the news that French government officials said they would organize an international competition.

However, France subsequently decided to restore the Notre Dame according to its original appearance. At first I also felt that it was good to fix it as it was, but then my thoughts changed.

Because if you fix it as it is, you will lose a lot of good ideas, and the fire does not let people re-examine this ancient building. People will not got a better way to continue the Notre Dame after the fire. The result is that after the fire broke out, people repaired the Notre Dame in accordance with the original appearance. There will be no more mentions in the history of the future, and people will forget this history. So I think maybe the new design can help the Notre Dame to continue better, rather than repair it as it is. And as an architect, I am keenly aware of what must be done.

How does your design celebrate the past and future of Notre-Dame?

With regard to my plan, my idea is to use modern techniques and materials but retain the original volume and form, to simplify the part of the spire, and to design a new roof, so that Notre Dame can show extraordinary charm during the day and night. Bringing new opportunities to Notre Dame in modern and innovative ways.

The roof is made of gradual glass, creating a dreamlike, light-like roof that comes from heaven. Through the gradual change of the transmittance of the glass, the ridge is gradually transparent from the uppermost layer of glass to the bottom layer of the completely transparent glass. The spire part is supported by a lightweight steel structure.

The outer part of the steel structure is covered with a gradual color of crystal material, so that the lower part of the minaret gradually becomes transparent until the highest part is completely transparent and disappears into the sky, blending with the sky. A layer of LED film is placed behind the crystal to give the apex a stunning, incredible visual effect at night. Let Notre Dame be the visual focus of the entire area at night. This will give the people of Paris a world-class architectural identity that is more open, dynamic and distinctive than before.

From the inside, the roof part can see the surrounding Paris city scenery, open the original roof space, and the sight of the person is transparent, gradually weakening upward until it is completely opaque. The gradient roof can guide people's eyes upwards. Place the curtains of the Renaissance murals and re-establish the history to the roof. Here, people can not only see the city outside the roof, but also the historical murals on the roof, the integration of old and new, where history and modernity meet.

Frank Liu Notre-Dame CathedralFrank Liu Notre-Dame CathedralFrank Liu Notre-Dame CathedralFrank Liu Notre-Dame Cathedral
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