Nantes: A Significant Milestone in the Restoration of the Saint-Donatien Basilica

Local News
Employees work to restore the Vaulted Roof at the Saint-Donatien Basilica in Nantes

HERITAGE:  A year and a half after the fire that destroyed the building, the operation to restore the vaults, “the most complex part of the restoration,” concludes …

One by one, the 10,000 blocks of stone of varying sizes, have almost all been laid. At 30 meters high, where the roof caught fire in June 2015, a dozen workers are busy for several months to prevent the arches of the Saint-Donatien basilica, damaged from the fire, from collapsing.

“This is the most complex phase of construction , says Pierluigi Pericolo on Friday, the heritage architect and implementer. The stones were very degraded by the structures collapse, the operations to extinguish the fire, rain water … We have replaced the same, using the same techniques in the nineteenth century. It is an exceptional work. “To realize” this reconstruction operation is extremely rare “, the paving is done from the top, a rounded casing.

10,000 blocks of stone to restore the vaults of the Saint Donatien Bascilica
10,000 blocks of stone to restore the vaults – J. Urbach

Just below, on a huge scaffolding mounted inside the building, beams of tens support the whole. When it’s dry, the supports are removed, before placing metal reinforcements … And it takes! After eight vaults times already, the most important of which ( “cross”) should be completed next week.

Just below the vaults. The one in the foreground has been restored at the Nantes Bascilica
Just below the vaults. The one in the foreground has been restored – J. Urbach

A fungus extends operations

Although progress of the site is progressing, one and a half years after the impressive fire that ravaged the Saint-Donatien Basilica, operations are far from over . “In addition to these more damaged stones, we found a fungus, dry rot, had developed and had attacked the woodwork elements,” explains Olivier Château, deputy mayor of Nantes in charge heritage.

The building of the security phase, making sure that the building is secure, which was to end in December, will therefore run until April, with the removal of damaged materials and wall treatments.

Fungus and dry rot has infected a lot of the woodwork of the Basilica in Nantes
Attacked by fungi, these platforms will be evacuated – J. Urbach

Reopening in 2020 at the earliest

So it is that at the end of 2017 that the rebuilding as such should start. Two years will be needed to rebuild the roof of which three quarters had been destroyed. No reopening date has been announced yet but the basilica will not receive visitors until 2020 at the earliest.

The cost of operations amounts for the moment 3.4 million euros. ” The city of Nantes is of course provided for this type of disaster,” said the town hall. The total budget for these years of work is estimated at eight million euros.

The facade of the Saint-Donatien basilica in Nantes
The facade of the Saint-Donatien basilica in Nantes – J. Urbach 

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