The designs for Notre Dame's new roof are eco-friendly and cool AF.

On April 15th, France lost part of one of its most iconic buildings — Notre Dame Cathedral. However, fundraising efforts for the rebuild began quickly, and now there are several design firms competing for the job.

France also opened the bidding up to international designers, and that really fanned the flame of the competition. Within the past month, grand design plans have been pouring in, and some of the most interesting ones go beyond historical restoration to directly address one of the world's greatest challenges — climate change.

Hey, the Paris Agreement doesn't have to be the only innovative green initiative in France, right?


One particularly cool, eco-friendly design is from French design firm Vincent Callebaut. Their "Palingenesis" design is not only a beautiful glass structure, it would also be a light-absorbing greenhouse that's meant to provide the Cathedral with 100% clean energy.

“The new wooden frame is covered with a three-dimensional crystal glass dress subdivided into faceted diamond-shaped elements," the firm noted in a press release. "These crystals consist of an organic, active layer made of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen and oxygen, which absorbs light and transforms it into power. This energy, stored in hydrogen fuel cells, will be directly redistributed throughout the cathedral.”

The firm also plans to build an urban garden inside the structure that would be fertilized by aquaponics (natural fish-made fertilizer). The sizable-sounding crops would mostly go to underserved communities in Paris, making the entire design beautiful, environmentally sustainable, and socially responsible.

But I'll just shut up and let you look at some more pictures of the awesome thing.

Photo via Vincent Callebaut/Instagram

Vincent Callebaut isn't alone in their idea to create a green space on top of Notre Dame. Another French firm also wants to create a greenhouse, but one that's only accessible to birds and insects.

“[The] Notre Dame tragedy should serve the cause of the environment, the greatest struggle of humanness, by being a new world symbol for the present and future generations," studio director Abel Guillaume told Fast Company. people would still be able to enjoy them and the space, but they'll have to do it from behind glass.

View this post on Instagram

NOTRE DAME - Proposal Une proposition de @summumarchi , donner l’accès aux combles de notre dame pour en faire un parc commémoratif, aux couleurs pourpres en mémoire de l’incendie, tout en profitant de cet énorme élan de générosité à travers les dons pour en faire un sanctuaire pour les animaux et insectes toujours plus menacés dans les villes. Que cette reconstruction serve l’environnement, et démontre au reste du monde le savoir faire de nos compagnons français à travers une architecture magnifiée, technique, intemporelle, au plus haut niveau de ce que l’on sait faire. Un symbole pour les générations futures. #summumarchi #summum #architecture #archi #architects #archidaily #light #dwellspire #house #home #office #villa #lifestyle #archilovers #architecturelovers #architecture_hunter #render #art #design #luxe #paris #notredame #notredamedeparis #god #dieu #church #ecology #environment #nddp

A post shared by 𝐒𝐮𝐦𝐦𝐮𝐦 𝐀𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐢𝐭𝐞𝐜𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐞 (@summumarchi) on

Studio Nab also wants to provide a refuge for insects, but a specific kind of insect that's already native to Notre Dame — bees. 180,000 bees have resided on the Cathedral since 2013, and thankfully survived the fire. Studio Nab's greenhouse structure would provide them with a safe space that's open to the public so people can learn about the importance of bees and how to properly maintain urban agriculture.

Photo via Studio NAB

One idea that's somewhat speculative is Studio Drift's plan to use recycled plastic found in the ocean to create a new roof for the cathedral. They claim redoing the roof in wood would require cutting down lots of trees whereas upcycling plastic waste is sustainable, and whatever they save in cost they plan to put back into the efforts to clean up the oceans.

It sounds nice in theory, but since the other firms above are using glass and adding more sustainable elements, this idea trails a bit behind theirs.

That said, it's great to see so many designers attempting to incorporate the planet's future into a design for a relic from the past. It'll be exciting to see which one of these ambitious projects wins out in the end.

Courtesy of Tiffany Obi
True

With the COVID-19 pandemic upending her community, Brooklyn-based singer Tiffany Obi turned to healing those who had lost loved ones the way she knew best — through music.

Obi quickly ran into one glaring issue as she began performing solo at memorials. Many of the venues where she performed didn't have the proper equipment for her to play a recorded song to accompany her singing. Often called on to perform the day before a service, Obi couldn't find any pianists to play with her on such short notice.

As she looked at the empty piano at a recent performance, Obi's had a revelation.

"Music just makes everything better," Obi said. "If there was an app to bring musicians together on short notice, we could bring so much joy to the people at those memorials."

Using the coding skills she gained at Pursuit — a rigorous, four-year intensive program that trains adults from underserved backgrounds and no prior experience in programming — Obi turned this market gap into the very first app she created.

She worked alongside four other Pursuit Fellows to build In Tune, an app that connects musicians in close proximity to foster opportunities for collaboration.

When she learned about and applied to Pursuit, Obi was eager to be a part of Pursuit's vision to empower their Fellows to build successful careers in tech. Pursuit's Fellows are representative of the community they want to build: 50% women, 70% Black or Latinx, 40% immigrant, 60% non-Bachelor's degree holders, and more than 50% are public assistance recipients.

Keep Reading Show less
via Kim Kardashian West / Twitter

It's not hard for most people to make fun of the Kardashians. But this week it got even easier after Kim tweeted she took a birthday getaway to Tahiti with her friends and family — during a deadly pandemic.

"After 2 weeks of multiple health screens and asking everyone to quarantine, I surprised my closest inner circle with a trip to a private island where we could pretend things were normal just for a brief moment in time," she tweeted.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Ah, the awkward joy of school picture day. Most of us had to endure the unnatural positioning, the bright light shining in our face, and the oddly ethereal backgrounds that mark the annual ritual. Some of us even have painfully humorous memories to go along with our photos.

While entertaining school picture day stories are common, one mom's tale of her daughter's not-picture-perfect school photo is winning people's hearts for a funny—but also inspiring—reason.

Jenny Albers of A Beautifully Burdened Life shared a photo of her daughter on her Facebook page, which shows her looking just off camera with a very serious look on her face. No smile. Not even a twinkle in her eye. Her teacher was apologetic and reassured Albers that she could retake the photo, but Albers took one look and said no way.

Keep Reading Show less
via Ted-Ed / YouTube

Trees are one of the most effective ways to fight back against climate change. Like all plants, trees consume atmospheric carbon through photosynthesis then store it in their wood tissue and in the surrounding soil.

They work as an organic vacuum to remove the billions of pounds of carbon dioxide that humans have dumped into the atmosphere over the past century.

So, if trees are going to be part of the war on climate change, what strategies should we use to make the best use of their amazing ability to repair the Earth? How can we be sure that after planting these trees they are protected and don't become another ecological victim of human greed?

Keep Reading Show less