French citizens will have voice on Notre Dame repairs

The Notre Dame cathedral a week after the fire
The Notre Dame cathedral a week after the fire REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes

French citizens will be consulted on how Notre-Dame should be rebuilt after the cathedral was ravaged by a fire on April 15, Culture Minister Franck Riester said on Friday. On that day, the fire lasted four hours and completely destroyed the roof and the wooden spire. Donations for repairs mounted to close to a billion Euro.


"The French will be able to give their opinions, and then we'll see which decision (will be taken) and how Notre-Dame will be restored," Riester told LCI television.

He promised a "debate and a large consultation," though the government will have the final say on the Paris landmark, which President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to restore within five years.

The church's roof and spire were destroyed in the blaze, with the cause still under investigation.

France has launched an international architectural competition for the reconstruction, raising the prospect of modern touches to a structure dating from the 13th century.

But experts note that it has been modified periodically since then, not least with the addition of the spire by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century, which collapsed into the nave during the inferno.

One suggested option is to rebuild the destroyed parts with original materials using a 3D printer, based on a full 3D scan that was made of the cathedral in 2000 by Belgian born Vassar professor Andrew Tallon.

A YouGov poll released this week found that 54 percent of respondents wanted the cathedral rebuilt exactly as it was, including the spire and the intricate "forest" of huge oak beams supporting the lead roof.

Only a quarter supported the idea that the rebuilding should include a modern "architectural gesture", while a further 21 percent had no opinion.

"In general, when cathedrals are restored, new elements are added. So why not have an architectural gesture allowing us to say there was a before and an after, and we don't pretend as if nothing happened?" Riester asked.

"But everything will be done together with consultations, and nothing will be done behind people's backs," he said.

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