French Senate declares Notre-Dame to be restored “in the same way as before”

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Members of the French Senate say the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame must be restored “in the same way visually as before”, effectively excluding proposals submitted by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye and British architectural firm Foster + Partners within the framework of an international project. competetion. But Delvoye says, “I’m sure they’ll change their mind 100 times, and maybe look into my solution. “

The roof and spire of the medieval cathedral were destroyed in the fire on April 15. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe shortly after launched a competition to reconstruct the 93-meter spire, erected in the 1860s when the cathedral was significantly remodeled by architect Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc. The old spire was made of around 750 tonnes of century-old oak lined with lead.

The Senate debated the government’s restoration plan, inserting key clauses including the stipulation that the conservation project “restores the monument in the same way visually as before”, and “if the [conservation team] uses different materials from those in place before the disaster, it [should] publish a study giving the reasons for these changes.

Delvoye said he was already working on proposals to restore the cathedral. “Having it as it was before the fire is not original,” says Delvoye. He adds: “If wood is used, it will be an ecological disaster. My design would be [be for] a 100 ton boom, using only steel. Foster + Partners’ plan is to build a glass and steel topper.

According to the stipulations of the Senate, the restoration project will be managed by the Ministry of Culture under a new public administrative establishment (administrative public body). The plan also supports the government’s five-year conservation schedule, which is tied to President Macron’s ambitious goal of completing the restoration in time for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

But the legislation has elicited mixed responses. “[The government] you have to take the time you need to rebuild this dazzling building, ”said Sylvie Robert, delegate to the Ille-et-Vilaine Senate. “The [restoration project] must become a showcase, a showcase of our know-how in this field, a showcase that lives up to our reputation! declared Alain Schmitz, the representative of Yvelines. The Senate and the National Assembly must now agree on a final plan before it becomes law.


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