Cathedral Fold, eastern France, Europe design by Axis Mundi Design LLC

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Cathedral Fold

Strasbourg, France

Design: Axis Mundi Design LLC

(New York, NY) April 21, 2011 – Axis Mundi was invited to submit a proposal for a new cathedral for the city of Strasbourg, France. The design is composed of a series of unfolded arches which rest on a submerged “Latin Cross” floor plan. A bas-relief of an abstracted Gothic cathedral will emerge on the eastern facade when the sun rises, and will gradually disappear during the course of the day.


Strasbourg is the capital and principal city of the Alsace region in north-eastern France and is the official seat of the European Parliament. Located close to the border with Germany, it is the capital of the Bas-Rhine department. Strasbourg’s is the ninth largest metropolitan area in France. Strasbourg is fused into the Franco-German culture and although violently disputed throughout history, has been a bridge of unity between France and Germany for centuries, especially through the University of Strasbourg, currently the largest in France, and the co-existence of Catholic and Protestant culture.


A series of unfolded (ogival) concrete arches were designed to create majestic volumes of light for the interior spaces. Invisible Cathedral The design of the front façade consists of a bas-relief of a digitized abstraction of a Gothic cathedral. As the sun rises in the east, it will cast shadows on the facade, and the bas-relief will become visible. It will gradually disappear during the course of the day. The floor plan is an abstraction of Gothic Cathedral, and is composed of a Latin cross (or “cruciform”) plan, with a long nave making the body of the church, a transverse arm called the transept and, beyond it, called the choir, chancel or presbytery.

Hidden Cross

A “Latin Cross” plan is submerged, or sunken below the ground plane. The interior below grade is entirely clad in limestone slabs, and has been reduced to the barest minimum of decoration. The pulpit was inspired by the Giants Causeway in Northern Ireland, and is composed of a cluster of hexagonal shaped columns. A simple bronze cross rises from behind.

Design Team

John Beckmann, Masaru Ogasawara and Viviane Liao
Renderings and Diagram: Viviane Liao and Masaru Ogasawara
Total sq. ft.: 25,000

Materials: Structurally reinforced concrete, limestone, seamed structural glass, bronze, and oak

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