Master´s Thesis 2020 Material Turn

Siri Pålsson

Design process

The elements suitable for recreating a spire was chosen with inspiration from the event that actually occurred on site. The roof collapsed with thousands of objects, statues, ornaments, beams and other construction elements. Therefore, reintroducing statues from Notre Dame in the design preserves a memory of the devastating fire the cathedral was experiencing.

During my visit in Paris it was impossible to approach the building. Instead, I could see the void where the spire used to rise from across the river. Since I was unable to make my own scans on site I used scanned online models. They represent various statues at Notre Dame de Paris.


I researched reference projects and trends and one process that was used repeatedly was assembling smaller pieces into one unit. As a result, this inspired me to the extent where I chose to use it as a concept. In short, I created the spire by assembling pieces and entire sculptures from Notre Dame into one unit.

Creating the spire I’ve been using an iterative process working with a 3D model of the new spire in Rhino. First, I have made proposals by combining the scans into different compositions by giving different commands to the computer. After that, I analyzed the results of the digital process and went back to modeling in Rhino.


At the beginning of the process the Saint Peter statue was implemented to create the bottom part of the spire. The model was first mended and made watertight. The aim was to use this strategy and work towards a perfect digital model with a closed mesh. The result was a cylinder shaped volume with the shape of Saint Peter statue both inside and outside.


Firstly, damaged parts of the scan of Christ on the Trumeau was removed. Secondly, I wanted to merge it into a regular shape where all the small details could work together. So, the resulting shape has a similar form as the previous model of Saint Peter. The appearance of this 3D model is very much intact in relation to the original statue. Consequently, it doesn’t possess an interesting appearance and it lacks irregularity that could make it more captivating. 


This model was very incomplete with massive holes and parts missing. The images show the process of how I made it a closed model. I used different objects to cover and mend every damaged part of the surface. Some parts were lost and the appearance changed when I fixed the model. But, in my opinion this only makes the model more interesting and the shape transforms into something more unpredictable.


I made an attempt to fix this scan. However, I came to the conclusion that it wouldn’t work due to severe damage to the mesh. Later on, I ignored the irregularities and decided to use this scan even though it’s only a shell.


The result of this merged model have some interesting parts. However, the statue of Christ on the Trumeau is too complete in its appearance when assembled together with the other models. The way the Unknown Statue is sticking out of the headless Saint Peter Statue, on the other hand, is much more intriguing.