Apple Store designer submits plans to rebuild Notre-Dame cathedral with glass roof and spire

Apple Store architect wants to use only glass to rebuild Notre-Dame's roof and spire
Apple Store architect wants to use only glass to rebuild Notre-Dame’s roof and spire (image: Eight Inc)

Matthew Field for The Telegraph:

The architect behind the Apple Store has submitted a proposal for the repair of Notre Dame including an all-glass roof replete with glass spire and saints.

The studio, Eight Inc, began working with Apple in 1999 and later built its flagship stores of white and glass spaces from 2001.

While the French senate has called for the redesign to exactly mirror the lost building work, the studio believes this could be done with modern materials, rather than the traditional cathedral stone architecture.

“I believe this definitive example of French gothic architecture requires a deep respect and appreciation of the history and intent of the original design,” Tim Kobe, chief executive of Eight Inc told architecture website Dezeen.

The new roof and spire would accurately match the form of the ones destroyed.
The new roof and spire would accurately match the form of the ones destroyed. (image: Eight Inc)

MacDailyNews Take: Interesting. What you you think of Eight’s proposal?


  1. What’s the point of a glass roof unless you remove all the surviving stone vaulting that separates the main body of the building from the roof space and acted as a fire break?

    1. Ok, downvoters… answer the question. Are you suggesting the removal of the medieval stone vaulting that still covers three-quarters of the nave and choir, or is there any reason to sunlight an unoccupied roof space?

    2. The point of the glass isn’t to illuminate the interior, but rather to allow the viewer to see both the “original” roof and spire (quoted because the spire was added later) and the appearance after the fire. It’s a monument to then and now in one solution.

      It could also be lit from inside to add a heavenly glow to the Grand Dame.

      1. So the idea is to show NotreDame as a ghost of its prior glory. Interesting, but I suspect the French see it as a living building. I don’t think this idea reflects that . Neither, to be fair, would a slavish twenty-first century replica of a fairly heavy-handed nineteenth century “restoration” of the original roof and spire. Creativity and sensitivity is called for here.

        1. I think you missed my point completely. Not a ghost of its former glory, but a hybrid of past and present. It IS creative, and nothing about it yells insensitivity. I’ve seen images from several proposals (most from French firms) suggesting glass or living roofs, so others must have the same thoughts…

          Out of curiosity, since you don’t care for the most-recent pre-fire look, what would your design feature?

          1. Not an architect, so I don’t have any specific proposals. I was just saying that cathedrals in the real world are evolved creations, with features from all the centuries that the structure has existed. This restoration should follow that pattern, rather than slavishly replicating the situation as it existed in 1864, at the end of the last restoration. I have no objection to modern features (and particularly to modern materials as durable as the originals), but I think the glass would be perceived as a ghost, rather than as a step forward.

            1. I can see your point about cathedrals being evolving creations, with a caveat — most historical structures today are maintained by a trust whose charter is to preserve the edifice as it currently is, or was at a specific point in times past. In other words, the evolution is purposefully halted. Is that good? I honestly can’t say one way or another… but it is what it is. I also think that mimicking the current structure will allow the restoration to happen MUCH faster than having to choose (and probably vote) between a myriad of evolutionary proposals.

              If you’d like to see an example of a church rebuilt with a glass steeple, albeit on a MUCH smaller scale, check out the Pearse-Lyons distillery in Dublin, IE. I’m not sure their website has a picture of it, but there are plenty on Google Maps. It’s become a landmark that adds color to the city (the steeple is illuminated with blue lights). This repurposed church was also the victim of a fire (lightning, I believe) and the distillery took a different approach to its repairs.

    3. I’ve had a few conversations with individuals central to the ‘restoration as before’ interest group.
      They see their plans as central to the integrity and identity of Notre Dame’s historical significance ie that it’s importance and place in the hearts of all French people will only be achieved by faithfully recreating the original. An additional advantage being that ‘Heritage’ building work will once again be a respected and well funded career.
      They view Macron’s dictat that Notre Dame’s ‘restoration be completed within five years’ as political expediency of the moment and not practically achievable given that stabilising the remaining fire damaged structure will take at least two years(done properly) and the forensic work has barely begun.
      The traditionalists are not per se against all things modern but they do want the roof structure to be as before – oak and lead, since that combination and structural weight distribution equation is well understood and has stood the test of time. They are less concerned about the wooden spire later addition being replaced as before and see this as where a modern design should be applied.
      There are of course extremes of thought even within the traditionalists group but already I sense that pragmatism has taken a sensible hold amongst even the most conservative viewpoints.
      Monument Historique officials have come out fighting, raising their profile with the help of EU wide experts including English Heritage, with the message that it is entirely possible to rebuild as before, that it should be done and that it will be good for ‘France’ to rediscover some of its historical significance. I’m fully on board with that idea since I’m fielding enquires from France about the courses we run.
      As an aside, Brexit stupidity will create problems for UK establishments wishing to help in the Notre Dame restoration by restricting freedom of movement, cutting off cross border funding and limiting British compliance with EU services.

  2. The French were strongly against the glass pyramid that was built at the Louvre. Now it is considered one of the main attractions of Paris.

    The proposed glass structure at Notre Dame will probably get the same initial reaction. The supporting structures that will hold the glass would be a major improvement over those old wood beams that burned too easily.

    I can see any reconstruction using modern, fire proof replacements to wood that burned. Sadly I think the glass approach will not be well received, no matter how beautiful it would be.

    1. I am also against the ugly glass pyramid in front of the Louvre. It’s a never ending cleaning chore that does nothing to enhance the courtyard of one of the most elegant palaces in the world. I would rather see Notre Dame covered with solar panels than a dirty moisture condensating glass roof.

  3. I want the glass to replicate the exact shape and volume of any replaced stone instead of emulating the thin pyramid shell at the Leuvre. And I see no reason to not tint the glass a la stained glass. This would not be unreasnable because using new tools and methods is one of the historical aspects of the development of Gothic architecture from its incipiency.

  4. And, besides, Abbot Sugar’s new theory at the beginning was that sunlight streaming through staines glass became a kind of holy light, light from God which would seem to support the manufacture and installation of stained glass replacements for any unrecoverable stones.

Reader Feedback

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.