French Senate defies Macron over Notre Dame restoration

The French Senate has ruled that Paris’ Notre Dame cathedral will be rebuilt to its original state before a devastating fire on the 15 April.

The decision goes against President Emmanuel Macron’s call for new designs from international architects to reimagine the cathedral. Among the ideas put forward for new designs have been Vincent Callebaut Architectures’ energy-positive plan, which included a rooftop farm.

The Senate sided with Parisian mayor Anne Hidalgo, who recently tweeted a quote from an interview with French newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche, saying: "I am in favour of an identical restoration, based on the ancestral know-how of the companions of duty," despite her appearance alongside Macron at his fundraising drive for a new restoration and pledging €50m for the project from Paris’ city funds.

French website The Local reports that senators revoked a law that had so far allowed Macron to override planning, environmental and heritage regulations and public tenders, effectively cancelling his international competition.

The Times quotes Republican senator Olivier Paccaud who said: "Culture is not productivism, culture is not Stakhanovism. A reconstruction is not a race," noting Macron’s bid to finish the restoration within five years, in time for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The Times notes that the right-wing dominated Senate will now have to side with the left-leaning National Assembly on the next steps to take, so it is unclear when the original restoration will take place or how long it will take to complete.

A 3D scan of the cathedral using over a billion points of data from more than 50 lasers was created in 2010 so a faithful recreation of Notre Dame may be possible.

Image: Notre Dame in flames, 15 April 2019 (Castellbo/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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  1. Dear Global Construction Review,

    An interesting contre-temps! On the one hand Notre-Dame burnt down with an internal construction that was perhaps 1000 years old or therabouts. And a president who wants to have something new. Well it will take at least 10 years to build, probably more. Sagrada Familia has at least ten years to go to completion and has been going many decades.

    Cathedrals are many in number in France, and seem to evoke much heat, although not much light, in a nation which keeps pronouncing itself to be secular. Let us say that the balance would have to be in favour of a magnificent NEW CATHEDRAL for the central point in spiritual France. A replica of the OLD CATHEDRAL would only attract null points for innovation, and would definitely be a thumbs down to ecclesiastical architects, whose chance to build a new cathedral will only come along very rarely.

    Therefore Macron wins the day! It has to be a new cathedral for France. Good luck to whoever the architect(s) is/are.

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