Notre-Dame: A Modern-Day Reconstruction 

The reconstruction of Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris could be a model for the restoration of historical heritage buildings. The fire at Notre-Dame in Paris in 2019 left its mark on the minds of not only the French but the whole world. 

The cause of the fire is not known, but experts have concluded that it was either defective construction equipment that caught fire or a cigarette butt, according to Le Journal du Dimanche. 

Photo by Jack Vanhaverbeke

The night after the fire, many other countries showed their support by lighting up their culturally representative buildings in the colours of the French flag. 

Emmanuel Macron quickly launched the reconstruction project after receiving donations from thousands of the French and others from all over the world, according to Les Echos. “We are discovering a lot of things about the way it [Notre-Dame] was built… It is an amazing opportunity,” said Philippe Jost, deputy director general of the public institution to rebuild Notre-Dame with Arte.  

The monument will be rebuilt using the same techniques by which it was originally constructed. Instead of using modern techniques, carpenters are equipped with axes. According to Radio-Canada, this is the only way to preserve the historical significance of the cathedral.  

Nathan Bocard, from RTL, talks to workers on the site who tell him how proud they are to work with ancestral techniques. By the time the work is completed, the carpenters will have completed more than 10,000 hours of work. Blacksmiths were hired to forge the tools workers use and each axe takes more than twenty hours to forge.

A challenge that comes with reconstruction, highlighted by Court of Auditors, was to find a balance between preserving the historical style while using techniques from the Middle Ages. This project was fueled by a great desire to remain faithful to the cathedral and a great respect for those who came before it. 

The construction site is facing a shortage of resources, as the same quality of wood used in the original building is difficult to find. This posed a problem specifically with the building of the spire. 

Photo by Jack Vanhaverbeke

The cost of the restoration is significant, but is expected to be fully covered by the €850 million in donations received from 340,000 individuals spanning 150 different countries.  

The two principal donors are two major French luxury brands, LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior) and Kering (Saint-Laurent, Gucci), who contributed €200 and €100 million respectively as announced by Le Point.

President Emmanuel Macron said in The Press that the goal is to reopen the entrance of the monument for the Paris 2024 Summer Olympics. As of October 2023, Radio Canada said the reopening will unfortunately not be until the end of 2024.  

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