Designed by Sparano + Mooney Architecture, they embraced the idea as light as a mediator for the central organizing principle for their proposal. The new Cathedral, a delicate dance between old and new, each contributes to its role in the creation of the new. The act of covering the precious ruins with a diaphanous, copper material creates the new space and form of the Cathedral which emerges as a dialogue between existing remains and new veil. More images and architects’ description after the break.
Light, like God, is unseen but enables all things to be seen. Light is a mediator between the visible and invisible, reason and faith, present and past, earth and heaven, human and divine. The space between the ruins and the enclosure forms the space of the new Cathedral of Port-au-Prince. The original structure is presented as precious; an active component in the creation of the character of the interior space of the new Cathedral.
For the observer approaching or passing the Cathedral, the louvers serve to heighten the mystery of the role of the ruins in the creation of the new Cathedral by revealing that role incrementally. One never sees the ruins in their entirety through the louver system. The visitor is left to wonder, invited to enter the Cathedral to discover more about the mystery the louvers allude to. A metaphor of the mystery of faith, partially revealing itself and welcoming one to seek a deeper understanding of the mystery.
Entry/threshold structures are added to the 3 exiting entrances. A pair of symbolically large (6m) wood doors are placed at the center of the West entrance and are opened only for select celebrations in the Eucharistic calendar. Upon entering, the role the original structure occupies in the life of the Cathedral fully reveals itself. The louvers literally and figuratively mediate our understanding of the original structure as a part of the new Cathedral.
New chapels are created with the addition of a 4.5 meter high stone “plinth’ around the Cathedral ruins. They inhabit space between the new “plinth” and the original Cathedral walls. The proposed louver system is configured to prevent rain, even hurricane driven rain, from penetrating while still providing for passive ventilation. Hot air rises and is removed from the space via air movement through the louvers.
The image of the Assumption at the East end of the Cathedral, with the rising sun behind it, is a reference to the maternal, life affirming qualities associated with Mary and occupies a prominent place in the Cathedral that bears the name of this important event in her life and our faith.
Architects: Sparano + Mooney Architecture Location: Port-au-Prince, Haiti Design Team: John P. Sparano, Anne G. Mooney, Seth Striefel, Caitlin Thissen, Kristi Faught, Bradeson Brinton Project: Competition Submittal for the rebuilding of the Cathédrale Notre Dame de l’Assomption Year: 2012