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Macron’s Notre-Dame reconstruction timeframe too short: experts

Workers install tarps to protect the fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris from rain, 24 April 2019.
Workers install tarps to protect the fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris from rain, 24 April 2019. Reuters/Benoît Tessier

More than 1,100 architects and heritage experts in France and abroad have warned French President Emmanuel Macron that his five-year deadline to rebuild Paris’s fire-damaged Notre-Dame Cathedral is too short.

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In a column published in French newspaper Le Figaro on Sunday, the 1,170 signatories urge Macron to “let historians and experts have the time for diagnosis before deciding on the future of the monument”.

“We are not imposing any particular solution. It’s too early for that,” it reads. “Let us not hide the complexity of the thinking involved in this reconstruction behind a façade of efficiency.”

Less than 24 hours after fire destroyed the Notre-Dame Cathedral’s roof and spire earlier this month, Macron vowed to repair the monument within five years.

“We will rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral more beautifully than it was built before,” said the French president. “I want to achieve this within five years. We can do it.”

The French government appeared to be making good on Macron’s pledge last week, presenting a bill last week that would speed up the reconstruction by allowing workers to skip some ordinary renovation procedures.

Drawing on references to a long history of cultural preservation in France, the experts warned against a timeline based on speed and political considerations.

“We know the political timeline demands that we act fast, and we know how much a damaged Notre-Dame weighs upon the image of France,” said the open letter.

“However, what is going to happen at Notre-Dame in the years to come implicates all of us beyond this calendar.

“Let us take the time to find the right path and then, yes, let us set an ambitious timeline for an exemplary restoration not only for the present, but for generations to come.”

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