Seven illustrators reimagine the Notre Dame of the future

In the aftermath of the infamous fire, French newspaper Libération commissioned a set of illustrators to offer a fantastical take on redesigning the iconic cathedral

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«La flèche incarnant pour une bonne part, la dimension iconique de Notre-Dame, c’est ailleurs qu’il faut introduire la modernité. Si la charpente peut être l’enjeu de prouesses d’ingénierie, la reconstruction elle-même peut aussi donner lieu à la mise en scène novatrice d’un chantier emblématique : des passerelles pourraient tourner autour de l’édifice, permettant au public de découvrir, dans les détails, le travail des artisans à l’œuvre et de circuler dans les hauteurs, pour apprécier, par des points de vue inattendus, le lien extraordinaire entre la cathédrale et sa ville.» François Schuiten, auteur de «Revoir Paris» éditions Casterman. Aujourd’hui dans Libé, sept dessinateurs fantasment Notre-Dame #NotreDameDeParis #NotreDame #Paris #feu #incendie #fire

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As the dust settles on the Notre Dame fire – a disaster that caused a national outcry and received widespread sympathy from abroad – and multinational conglomerates have quietened down on the battle for the most generous donation, people are turning their attention to what the face of the iconic cathedral will resemble moving forward.

Steering clear of making serious speculations, French newspaper Libération commissioned seven artists to illustrate their fantasy interpretation of what Notre Dame would look like in the future.

Francois Schuiten’s illustration made the front cover, which included elevated walkways flanking a new spire. Schuiten’s design was met with scorn on social media, where users – turning a blind eye to the ‘fantasy’ brief, despite the spaceships levitating not-so-subtly in the background – expressed concern about how such a reincarnation would see the historic cathedral become more of a tourist attraction than it already is.

Lorenzo Mattotti transformed the visage of the cathedral into a wild, green landscape, while Zeina Abirached placed words in the void where the spire once stood, using her stark illustration as a moving reflection on a historic day. For Brecht Evens, the project was an opportunity to create an eclectic design that paid homage to the city’s Latin motto, Fluctuat nec mergitur ([She] is tossed [by the waves], but does not sink). Elsewhere, Émilie Gleason went all out with a tongue-in-cheek nod to Disney’s hefty donation towards the cathedral’s reconstruction.

The Libération commission isn’t the only initiative to explore the future of the cathedral’s appearance. French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe recently put out an open call to architects for submissions on redesigning the spire, which fell during the fire. Many designers and architects have already responded with their ideas, although the jury is still out on whether it should even be rebuilt at all.

View the Libération article here