Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, open competition, Port-Au-Prince (Haïti), 2012
Architects : École (Nicolas Simon and Max Turnheim) & Adrien Durrmeyer
Extended team : Hadrien Gauthier & Louis Latzarus
The project considers the Church’s territorial influence at the level of the city. The Cathedral is no longer a single building, but extends into the city in the form of decentralised modular constructions. The cathedral (1), market (2), cultural centre (3), health centre (4) and memorial (5) – dispatched throughout the neighbourhood – make up a network engaging with the social fabric and cityscape. Materialised by durable infrastructure for the people, the Church’s mark on the city here shifts from impressive building to pervasive network of influence interwoven with all aspects of social life – worship, work, exchange, socialization, learning, and play.
It takes advantage of the Church’s financial power to introduce a significant change to the neighbourhood. The Cathedral extends geographically, symbolically and functionally, thereby reinforcing its essential role in the community.
A network of modules: The modules proposed for the polycentric spatial occupation strategy come in various configurations, shapes and dimensions.
Formal simplicity and absence of explicit ornamental features displace the focus to the overall coherence of proposed urban scheme. The network of interlinked landmarks casts structure on the neighbourhood and devastated community.
The network of modules extends beyond the allocated site. It involves the Church in the reconstruction of the local, a charitable objective that exceeds the necessity for the central.
Module 1 builds on the historic floor plan. Rather than erasing the traces of the earthquake, it is a testimony to the destroyed building. The ruin is mobilised as a landmark, an inherent part of the urban fabric and landscape. The new Cathedral, by negotiating a relationship with the remaining foundations and scraps, reinforces the geographic quality of the ruin. It is inscribed in, alters, and extends the original design.
Facing the Cathedral, a longitudinal market houses economic exchange. The positioning of modules 1 and 2 articulates relationships between the institutions of the sacred and the profane, generating interesting intermediates.
A vertical module houses various forms of cultural and learning activities.
A module of square footprint houses medical and care facilities.
Overseeing most of the site, and functioning as a symbolic entrance to the newly altered neighbourhood, a memorial mediates the relationship between here/now and then.