Lewandowska Architect PLLC

Reimagining Haiti's National Cathedral after Earthquake Devastation


The world we live in is evolving rapidly but people and their need for spiritual life has remained constant for the past two thousand years. Cathedras represent the best architectural and engineering solutions of its times and mark achievements in architectural history, while creating experiences that transport human minds into the ethereal life. What has inspired people in the past, and in distant Europe, cannot be simply repeated.

The new Notre Dame de l'Assomption does not only fulfill the aspirations of the Haitian nation, but is meant to be a beacon for Catholics throughout the world. When walking into the subtly lighted space one is surrounded by biblical events cast into the bronze gates and walls, which provide references and dynamic visual interpretation of the weekly readings. The main light source of the Cathedral comes through the frosted cast glass wall and is enhanced by artificial lights with blue shade sandwiched in-between glass planks.

The glowing glass wall raises above the gates and takes one's eyes up to the sky, rhetorically Heaven. Contrast of the two worlds is represented in choice of the inherently different materials - one being lightly translucent, glowing, and ethereal - is contrasted with heavy, sculptural and symbolic for human history. The ceiling and roof of the cathedral is broken into gargoyle-inspired gutters which collect and transport rain water into reflecting pools flanking the ceremonial walkway on both sides of the building.

During holiday celebrations the entire front wall of the cathedral can be opened all the way across to allow for temporary expansion of standing room into the Cathedral Atrium in front of the building. The Atrium is flanked by ceremony hall and community center on the north, more private clergy offices and quarters on the south, and two bell towers on the east. The towers house the surviving three bells and become an important urban feature for the Haitian capital.

"The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption (Cath├ędrale Notre-Dame de L'Assomption), often called Port-au-Prince Cathedral , was a cathedral in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Built between 1884 and 1914, it was dedicated on December 13, 1928, and became the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Port-au-Prince. The cathedral was destroyed in the 12 January 2010 earthquake. Prior to its destruction, the cupola of the north tower of the Cathedral served as the front lighthouse of a pair guiding mariners into Port-au-Prince harbor. The roof and the towers flanking the main entrance collapsed in the 2010 earthquake, although the lower parts of the walls remain standing. The earthquake also destroyed the nunciature and the archdiocesan offices, killing Archbishop Joseph Serge Miot instantly and Vicar General Charles Benoit later." en.wikipedia.org Resources: www.ndapap.org