Experts called upon to help with reconstruction of Notre-Dame cathedral

Access to the comments Comments
By Philip Pangalos
Experts called upon to help with reconstruction of Notre-Dame cathedral

Experts from around the world have been called upon to help with the reconstruction and restoration of Notre-Dame cathedral, the beloved Parisian landmark that was recently ravaged by a devastating fire.

In his address to the French nation last week, President Emmanuel Macron appeared optimistic that the cathedral can be rebuilt within five years, so that it is ready in time for the Paris Olympic Games in 2024, though some building experts have cast doubt on whether that ambitious plan is possible.

So how likely is this?

Restoration projects in Britain, after a series of fires at historic buildings, can be used as a guide for the reconstruction of Notre-Dame.

In 1984, a fire broke out at the emblematic cathedral at York Minster, causing millions of pounds worth of damage. It took four years for its restoration.

Then in 1992, flames engulfed Windsor Castle, the British royal residence at Windsor. Some 115 rooms were destroyed and were eventually rebuilt after five years.

Peter Riddington, the renowned conservational architect, was responsible for the restoration of Windsor Castle, which cost 36 million pounds. He says that President Macron's time frame is realistic.

"Certainly, given the will and with the manpower, if they can source the manpower to do it, then I can see that being achievable, but there is one contingent and that's the availability of wood to rebuild the roof. Now, they may not necessarily have to rebuild the roof because the medieval structure is all gone. They may be able to repair the elements of the medieval structure that survived, but then the elements that were destroyed entirely, there's no real reason why it shouldn't be built in a modern way with steel or whatever other material might be available. But that would certainly decrease the programme time, if they didn't have to wait for wood. Wood will be a major issue," said Peter Riddington, the who worked on .

Peter Riddington also worked on restoration of Britain's Parliament at Westminster. Today's structure is a Victorian restoration of the previous one that was lost in a fire, but it has damage and many fear it could have a similar fate.

"This is a building that is fundamentally at the heart of British politics and actually international world politics. It's the Mother of Parliaments, for goodness sake. We may not like the people inside it very much, but actually it means more than the people inside it and that's why it's important to back the proposals to repair and restore it. Because, without those, we will lose that building, and we wouldn't want to lose that building any more than the French would want to lose the cathedral of Notre-Dame," he said.