The Notre-Dame restoration
Notre-Dame restoration has still not begun as of Fall 2019.
Six months after the capital’s most famous cathedral burned, what plans are afoot? We take a look at the options currently on the table.
A fateful day
As reported in this blog, April 15, 2019 was a fateful day for our city.
Notre-Dame is a true icon. To see it undergo severe damage is one of the most shocking moments in Paris’ history.
But soon after extinguishing the flames, the question on everyone’s lips was: will the restoration start soon? More importantly, what will it look like?
Traditional vs. Modern
Within days of the devastating fire, donors from all over the world pledged more than 850 million euros for the Notre-Dame restoration.
Such a huge budget means the project can take two routes. Either an exact rebuilding of the cathedral as it was. Or the chance to add in 21st-century elements, reordering the cathedral with a contemporary feel, especially the spire.
It’s the latter that proves a more controversial choice. Not least with the Catholic community, particularly as some of the larger amounts pledged are from non-Catholics.
In the summer, French newspaper Le Figaro held a poll on the topic. The results reveal that 55% of French respondents demand a spire identical to the original.
But top architects from around the world are proposing other ideas.
Proposals for the Notre-Dame restoration
In the weeks after the fire, many architects and designers put forward their suggestions for a new, contemporary Notre-Dame.
Just some of these proposals included a new roof made of stained glass and a remodeled spire crafted from carbon fibers. Even a huge column of light shining up to the sky.
An independent competition also launched. Called the People’s Notre-Dame Design Competition, it caused a surge of even more outlandish ideas.
Announced in June, the overall winners are Chinese architects Zeyu Cai and Sibei Li. Their controversial proposal is for a new mirrored roof. It is crowned with a huge spire that is both a kaleidoscope and a time capsule. It’s nothing if not inventive, although perhaps a little unrealistic.
The final decision
Despite such tantalizing plans, it seems they are not to be.
This is due to the passing of a law, requiring that Notre-Dame be rebuilt exactly as it was before the fire. This law passed in July. It states the restoration must ‘preserve the historic, artistic and architectural interest of the monument.’
It’s not just the style of the restoration that’s up for debate. The timescale is also under question.
President Macron insists that Notre-Dame’s restoration and reopening will be in time for the Olympic Games in summer 2024.
But Culture Minister Franck Riester has said that rushing the restoration work is not an option.
A third opinion comes from Monsignor Patrick Chauvet, the top administrative cleric of Notre-Dame. He says, “We’re still in the first phase, the phase of securing… Then there will be the second phase, dedicated to assessing the situation… The third phase, which will start in 2021, will be the restoration phase itself.”
It seems the decisions made in the next two years will be critical to the future legacy of Notre-Dame.
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Photo – Dezeen