The director of the Foundation of the Work of Our Lady, who for 800 years watches over the Cathedral of Strasbourg, explains that Notre-Dame de Paris can be rebuilt but it will take “decades, the damage will be considerable”.
Eric Fischer, director of the Foundation of the Work of Notre-Dame, who for 800 years watches over the Cathedral of Strasbourg, explains to AFP how Notre-Dame de Paris can be rebuilt but also the risks that the yards put on these buildings and the lessons to be learned from the fire.
How long will it take to rebuild Notre Dame, years, decades?
I would say decades. The damage will be considerable. But in France, we are lucky to have been able to maintain a network of extremely successful heritage companies, small craftsmen or larger groups. These companies have in their midst highly skilled workers who can be better workers in France or from the network of companionship. There is also the determining role that will be played by the chief architects of the Historic Monuments which have the competence of the great cathedrals in France and of course the network of the regional directorates of cultural affairs who are in charge of the maintenance of these buildings. Given the presumed scope of work, almost all trades will have to intervene. There will obviously be work on stone, carpentry, metalwork,
Can we one day find Notre-Dame in the state we knew until today?
It must of course be hoped. What will be decisive are the various sources of documentation, copies that will allow architects and companies to reconstruct the current state as closely as possible. In Strasbourg, thanks to the Foundation, we have some of the richest documentary collections in Europe. And in Paris, we hope that they will be able to get their hands back on the maximum of historical or more recent data collected with modern technologies such as 3D scans or other scanning techniques. They may have helped preserve information about statuary, stained glass, or other building elements. These techniques are in full swing. We are experimenting with the preservation of elements in digital form that were the subject of now plaster copies. For the rest, we know in my opinion to do everything, rework the stone, redo the stained glass …
After this event, will we have to rethink the conservation of cathedrals?
Let’s wait for the conclusions of the investigations to find out what happened in Paris. But all of these buildings are protected by fire safety regulations that make it possible to detect the start of fire as quickly as possible. For the yards, the risk exists. This is why a number of regulatory provisions are implemented such as the reporting of any intervention that generates a hot spot or the establishment of special monitoring provisions. More generally, past the shock of the first days, this event will certainly strengthen us in the philosophy that develops the Foundation since the Middle Ages: the transmission of gesture and knowledge. Because it is not enough to conserve the heritage. If it is destroyed, you have to rebuild it. This is the real issue