The state of the reconstruction of Notre Dame, two years later


On April 15, 2019, the world witnessed the fall of the Notre Dame Cathedral tower after a fire. Two years later, this centenary mark is undergoing an immense restoration. The reconstruction of this jewel of Gothic architecture is being rebuilt with oaks from the local forests and with 200 workers on site every day. According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the goal is for the church to be ready before the city hosts the 2024 Summer Olympics.

Michael Picaud, president of Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris, which is the institution that raises funds for the reconstruction of the church, says that all of this is a delicate issue and that the inauguration of the cathedral in 2024 will not necessarily be the last stage of the restoration, with more work to do for a complete restoration.

The first step in this reconstruction was the security phase, which began in the summer of 2019 until November 2020. Scaffolding was built around the cathedral to restore the tower, canvas was installed over the vaults, the gargoyles were wrapped and the flying buttresses were installed. reinforced. There was a pause in the three-month reconstruction in 2020, due to the pandemic, which resumed on June 8, 2020, where workers removed more than 300 tons of burnt scaffolding, which took about 6 months.

A secondary structure of metal beams on three levels was built to help remove the scorched scaffolding from the roof, in order to prevent the church from collapsing.

Picaud says they have made great strides in the past month, which is very encouraging. He also says that the last time he visited the church he saw one of the biggest steps, which was the installation of scaffolding inside the cathedral.

The reconstruction of the church depends on donations through a fund-raising organization, however admission will remain free when it is reopened. Picaud, who plans to hold a virtual event with the French Embassy in the United States, says it is a difficult process because there is so much to do.

Nowadays, there is still a hole in the top of the church. The architects also planned to build a replica of the church tower that had been initially designed by the 19th century architect, Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, made from more than 1,000 oak trees donated by local forests across France. The trees are being cut this spring and will be stored for a period of 12 to 18 months to prepare them for the reconstruction phase, in the fall of 2022.

The objective is to store this wood in a low humidity level, below 30%, each tree must be long enough to fit in an aerial curve of 20 meters in length to restore the roof structure. According to Bertrand Munch, some of the trees are more than 200 years old.

Even though it is a very slow process, the team of engineers, carpenters and construction workers remains hopeful. Dominique Jarlier, president of the National Federation of Forest Municipalities, says that the selection of the first oaks is a very important step on the way to the rebirth of the cathedral and that it is the major part of the great transformation. With all the hard work and determination the wait will be well worth it.

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