Located in the heart of the seventh arrondissement, the complex of religious buildings is designed as a neighbourhood in itself. In addition to the church, it comprises a cultural centre, a parish centre, and a school, with an alley running through it between Quai Branly and Avenue Rapp. The 4,240-m², on which the offices of the French weather bureau formerly stood, was purchased by the Russian Federation from the French state in 2010 for €73 million.
This project is the most
exceptional of my career.
Each “bulb” consists of several “petals” made by pouring fibreglass and epoxy resin into special moulds, with a cone at the top to support a cross. The largest dome measures 11.5 meters in height, and the four smaller ones six meters. As for their colour, Paris City Hall asked that they not be too bright. Wilmotte therefore came up with a gold and palladium alloy that has a dull lustre. The colour, called “moon gold,” varies in tone depending on the light striking it. Some 90,000 extremely thin (0.35 microns) sheets of gold leaf measuring eight by eight centimetres – and, amazingly, weighing a total of just just two and a half kilos of gold– were applied by hand.
To ensure excellent acoustics, the interior walls are lined with micro-perforated wood panels, and the seats are upholstered with fabric The control room is separated from the auditorium by a wall of ultra-resistant Dacryl.
“Each layer of stone in the church has a specific profile,” explains Thomas Rousseau, a Head of Works at Bouygues Bâtiment Ile- de-France Construction Privée. “That required making 72 different stone courses. Each stone, which is unique, was cut and then wrapped up in a precise order. This large-scale construction process was rigorously organized. We had to create as many grinders as there were profiles of stone.”
About fifteen workers spent ten months cutting the 1,600 m3 of white Massangis stone quarried in the Burgundy region. Another unique characteristic of the church façade: at every fourth or fifth row of stone, an angle was formed with a bent glass sheet and covered with gold leaf. This difficult task was performed by an artisan glassblower at the Emmanuel Barrois workshops.
Inside, the cathedral’s walls are still a stark white rather than covered with ornate Orthodox decoration. It will be another two or three years before the frescos that will adorn them can be admired. However, this art, which contains natural pigments like those used in the fourteenth century, cannot be painted on smooth surfaces. The 17-meter-high walls, which were built with a single pour of concrete (a real feat), had to be covered with brick. Then specially trained French workers applied between nine and thirteen coats of a traditional Russian plaster on the brick to obtain an irregular surface that would add relief to the future frescos and render them livelier.
On December 4, with incense filling the air, Kirill the First, Patriarch of Moscow, consecrated the cathedral. Five new golden flames now glow in the Paris sky.
and glass on the façades
of the Russian Spiritual and Cultural Center.
by forming an alloy of gold and palladium.
Within two or three years, the walls
will be covered with frescoes.