Last week’s poll: restoring Notre-Dame

Notre Dame

There are no easy answers to questions surrounding the restoration of Notre Dame de Paris. For a start, those seeking a faithful recreation of the cathedral’s wooden roof and spire will need to source over 1,300 giant oak trees. According to UC Berkeley, this amounts to the equivalent to 52 acres of trees from dense woodland, which is a natural resource lacking in France.

The restoration team will also be acutely aware of wider structural issues brought about by saving a largely limestone structure that has undergone the rigours of extreme heat and the brave attentions of the Paris Fire Brigade. Such a combination of extreme heat and water can lead to calcification and weakening of the limestone, which will need replacing.

Then there’s the small matter of gathering those with an intimate knowledge of gothic and medieval architecture to oversee the considerable task of restoring Notre Dame de Paris.

Andrew Tallon of Vassar College performed a complete 3D laser scan of the cathedral before his passing in November 2018, and this could prove invaluable regardless of the architectural style – and methods used – in Notre Dame de Paris’ restoration.

But what do Engineer readers think about rebuilding damaged sections of the cathedral? According to 41 per cent of 735 respondents, the structure should look as if it’s medieval, but modern techniques and materials to recreate this look should be hidden. A third (33 per cent) wish to see a faithful recreation of what was lost, followed by 18 per cent who favour completely and visibly contemporary structures. Eight per cent opted for ‘none of the above’.

In the Comments that followed, James Stewart wrote suggested that there are enough oak trees in Texas to build Notre Dame 10 times over.

Peter added: “Laminated oak beams can be reproduced to any length, any angle and any size. It would be very easy to reproduce the roof to original specs. The cost however would be another matter.”

“The 19thC tower was originally intended to show off what the very original cathedral designers would have done had they’d had the technology to do so,” added Jon. “With that in mind, I think a new tower should be using cutting edge materials to make something beautiful and delicate that will last centuries. Carbon fibre, glass, titanium… It could look amazing.”

Ian Buglass chipped in with a suggestion that the site is levelled with a school or hospital built in its place.

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