Lonely Planet Writer

Rooftop pool? Notre Dame proposal could change the face of Paris

A number of designs have been proposed for Notre Dame’s fire-damaged roof and spire but few are as daring as this rooftop pool.

A Swedish design company has reimagined Notre Dame with a rooftop pool. Image by JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/ UMA

Imagine taking a dip in a rooftop pool above Notre Dame. Watched over by the statues of gargoyles and the 12 apostles as you swim above the Seine, while Paris landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur interrupt your strokes. It seems a bit far-fetched but that’s exactly what Swedish design firm Ulf Mejergren Architects (UMA) is proposing.

The pool could completely change the face of Paris. Image by UMA

Ever since a fire engulfed the Gothic masterpiece in April, architects and designers have tried to reimagine what a rebuilt Notre Dame would look like. The French government launched an international competition so architects can submit their ideas but debate continues to grow between traditionalists who favour a faithful restoration and those who want to push boundaries with innovative designs to marry the old and the new. UMA is in the latter camp with proposals to design a public pool that occupies the entire roof.

An aerial view of the reimagined Notre Dame rooftop. Image by JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/ UMA

“Given that we’re in the epicentre of Paris, the world’s cultural capital and a city filled with joie de vivre, we’re not planning on rebuilding the roof as it was. Instead, we are proposing a meditative public space; a complementary spatial experience to the building with unmatched views over Paris,” a UMA spokesperson told Lonely Planet. “We think that the cathedral looks much better without both the spire and the lead-clad roof. Instead, we let the bell towers, the flying buttresses and the rose windows do the talking.”

The pool would occupy the entire rooftop. Image by JEAN-SEBASTIEN EVRARD/AFP/ UMA

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he wants Notre Dame rebuilt “more beautifully” and finished in five years, presumably to coincide with the Paris Olympics in 2024.

Potential designs include a rooftop garden, an ‘endless’ spire of light and a roof made of crystal.