Haiti’s hope: two years after quake, plans for new cathedral

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The winner of the design competition for the new Cathédrale Notre Dame de l’Assomption in Port-au-Prince, Haiti was unveiled today. The winning design was selected from among 134 entrants who submitted proposals for the replacement the former cathedral, which was destroyed in the 2012 Haiti earthquake.

Segundo Cardona and a team of six other architects from Puerto Rico submitted the winning design. The façade of the original cathedral is integrated into the new design and serves as the entry point to a sheltered, outdoor courtyard that leads to the new 1,200-seat worship space. Large, retractable walls will open to the courtyard for special occasions to accommodate an additional 600 worshippers.

The centralized altar and seating plan allow for a large number of people to remain close to the altar. The interior of the new cathedral is marked with creative and abundant use of natural light, as electricity in Port-au-Prince is intermittent and expensive.  The shape of the ceiling emphasizes a movement towards the oculus and also focuses attention on the altar. The Stations of the Cross ring the parameter of the worship space and can be viewed both from the main church and the ambulatory.

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