Echoing the French Senate’s stipulation, the Construction Specifier readers want Paris’ iconic Notre Dame Cathedral to be restored to exactly how it was before a massive fire destroyed much of the historic landmark.
“Absolutely, to the extent possible! Notre Dame is a world historic treasure and the restoration should be true to that,” said a reader. “The temptation to apply a progressive design response incorporating modernist elements such as glass roofs should be resisted…Lest it become just a memorial to the tragic event of the fire!”
Additionally, 44 per cent of the survey respondents believe it is feasible to finish the restoration work within five years, as promised by French president Emanuel Macron.
Readers believe technological advances coupled with adequate financial support and the proper team would help achieve the five-year goal.
Meanwhile, adding immediacy to the restoration project is a troubling report by Paolo Vannucci, a mechanical engineer at the University of Versailles, France. Vannucci has determined the cathedral is structurally unstable and urgently needs reinforcing.
Notre Dame’s unique architecture relies on distributing weight through clustered columns, external flying buttresses, and counter-supports creating an ‘exoskeleton.’ However, the structural system of the Gothic church was “severely reduced” after the collapse of a part of the vault inside the cathedral, reported Francesco Bandarin, architect and former senior official at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in the Art Newspaper.
Bandarin also wrote, an engineered model of the structure by Vannucci shows the walls of the landmark could collapse under high wind speeds greater than 90 km (56 mi) per hour. In comparison, before the fire, they could bear wind loads of up to 220 km (137 mi) per hour, thus requiring urgent temporary supports.
“Strengthening and restoring the structural system of Notre Dame must, therefore, be the primary goal in the rebuilding process,” Bandarin wrote. “The walls need to be reinforced, and the rib vaults rebuilt and consolidated in order to allow the replacement of the roof, which itself plays an important structural role in the overall frame of the monument.”