the cathedral of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, haiti
the cathedral of Notre Dame de l’Assomption, haiti

The design invokes axial shifts in plan and section which reflect the events of 2010 with routes between past and future symbolically crossing moving plates. The new cathedral has shifted north and straddles fallen ground that creates a split level nave and sunken external court extending to the north.

The cathedral is a unique, robustly engineered lightweight structure with translucent envelope, that is resilient to both Haiti's climate and seismic extremities. The large span is constructed of short lengths of treated bamboo composite rafters in an offset 'A' frame set out aligned to the ruinous retained cathedral structure and clad predominantly in perforated metal, un-inflated (tensiled) twin skin ETFE and bamboo culms. Guadua bamboo construction is advocated for its potential to seed wider future benefit among Haitian society. Strategically this sustainable design, with some reuse of elements of the existing, has capability for phased delivery responsive to donation income and is designed for minimal dependency on imported resources.

The building is located on the existing site and set within the city grid plan. Relationships are established specifically between ruinous retained elements, the modern Cathedral and its Chapels. The existing west frontage and the south aisle are imaginatively conserved, adapted and reused. A dramatic ceremonial southern entry divides the restored west front from the new.

The nave form of the inferior is flooded with natural light filtered protective radiation screenings. To the north a memorial chapel is extended out separated from the new and located within the sunken court. It is circular and crowned by thorn like spikes. Transepts with side entry align with the city grid and are differentiated by their roofing. The south transept connects directly to Notre Dame Chapel. The Cathedral will be a place of memory and worship, and a symbol of transformation and resurrection for all Haiti.

Design competition submission in collaboration with:- Arup engineers, T. Hayes, I. Kamara, R. Papalla, E. Southcott, D. Stark.

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