The Reconstruction of Notre Dame

The Reconstruction of Notre Dame

Since the inescapable tragedy of the fire that ripped through and destroyed Notre Dame in April there has been plenty of discourse on what should be done to repair the great cathedral. As huge donations have been put forward by billionaire philanthropists and the French government pledges to rebuild Notre Dame within 5-years, what are the options open for a rebuild and reconstruction? Great architectural marvels have been built, destroyed, rebuilt, and modernised over many centuries, and it is the job of modern designers and architects to build a new Notre Dame that speaks beautifully of the past but recognises the present and a brave future.

French President Emmanuel Macron was quick to state that he believed Notre Dame should be rebuilt within five years, but this timeframe might only be achievable in certain contexts. For instance, if the roof was to be reconstructed alone then a five-year plan would be completely achievable. For the entirety of the interior of the cathedral to also be restored to its previous standards, it might take a little longer to come up with a full and detailed plan of action, as well as the longer construction process to consider. It is hard to really understand the true extent of the damage to the interior of the structure at this time, as well as what the true cause of the fire and its speed of destruction was.

For many people it is important that the rebuilt Notre Dame considers its history and tries to reimagine it as closely to the original as possible. The structure of the cathedral was very important in many different aspects, but especially within the architectural style of French Gothic, and its development in the 13th century and beyond. The design of the roof of the Notre Dame cathedral for example, was a reason behind so many roofs being steeper than they had been previous to that age, meaning a greater need for a stiffer construction to withstand the elements. The wooden framework of Notre Dame’s roof was important in that regard on a national architectural note, so to lose that completely in the fire is truly devastating.

There are so many different aspects of the design and construction of Notre Dame in the first place that have been crucial to France and ensuring it was at the forefront of architecture throughout Europe. The design of the Gothic cathedral was one of the earliest to include a king post, which is a central vertical post in a triangular truss. It is these tiny fascinating details that made Notre Dame one of the great architectural marvels of the world.

Some of the greatest designs in the history of the planet have been designed by architects that knew they would not live to see the finished project, and there might be too much of the fast-paced need of the modern world to deliver everything now that could hinder the reconstruction of Notre Dame. Whether it is decided to replicate it in true fashion to the original, or go with a brand new design, a short-term deadline should not be set, as this could devastate the overall impact and make the new Notre Dame a pale comparison to its former glories.

David Mash