France has announced an international architecture competition to rebuild the spire of Paris’s Notre-Dame Cathedral after it collapsed in a major fire
Prime minister Édouard Philippe said the contest would ensure the heavily damaged landmark would receive a new ‘spire adapted to techniques and challenges of our times’.
The promise to hold a competition comes shortly after French president Emmanuel Macron pledged to rebuild the 850-year-old cathedral within five years.
More than £700 million has so far been donated to cover the costs of reconstruction, although there is no official estimate of the eventual price tag.
Philippe’s announcement followed a special cabinet meeting focusing on the devastating fire, which engulfed the medieval landmark on Monday evening. The prime minister said reconstruction would be ‘a huge challenge, a historic responsibility’.
According to the BBC, Philippe questioned whether it was necessary to replicate the tower, which was designed by French architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc in 1844, ‘or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire’.
‘Will we rebuild the spire at all? Will we recreate the spire that fell? Or will we come up with an entirely new spire?’ #French Prime Minister #EdouardPhilippe announces an international architecture competition following the destruction of parts of #Notre_Dame @France24_en pic.twitter.com/Yc85Y04lTC— Haxie Meyers-Belkin (@haxieMB) April 17, 2019
Parisians watched in horror on Monday as the cathedral spire collapsed while 400 firefighters battled to extinguish the flames.
While the spire and roof collapsed, the main structure, comprising the UNESCO world heritage landmark’s two rectangular bell towers, has survived.
Farshid Moussavi, founder of Farshid Moussavi Architecture, said the rebuilding of Notre-Dame provided an opportunity to recreate the bringing together of talent and donations which created the original medieval structure.
‘The rebuilding of Notre-Dame is an opportunity to expand that history,’ she said. ‘Whereas the political landscape in the Gothic era was based on each country competing with each other to show their piety, today, we can come together as an international community to rebuild Notre-Dame because it is a world heritage landmark.’
French architect Irène Djao-Rakitine said the ‘best artisans and architects in the world’ would be needed to restore the landmark. ‘Support is already coming from all around the world,’ she said. ‘It’s becoming an opportunity to build together a symbol of peace that will hopefully last.’
Speaking on Monocle 24, University of Liverpool visiting professor of architecture Alan Dunlopp suggested France should ‘do something contemporary, something new, something that represents a foprward thinking country.’
He said: ‘In Scotland I was one of the few people who said we should build something new after the Glasgow School of Art fire. To my amazement they [the French] have said they will conserider building something new. I applaud their ambition, elan and chutzpah.’
Details on the competition have yet to be announced.