Six months after the fire of Notre-Dame de Paris, the consolidation is more complex than expected, some perilous work and the heavy bill, but nothing yet can discern the shape that will have this gothic jewel to the from the construction site of the century.
“Way of the cross or obstacle course, the yard took a little lead in the wing! It’s full of impatience, but the enthusiasm of those who drive it is going to make it happen, “says Stéphane Bern, who is in charge of Emmanuel Macron’s mission on heritage.
It is only at the end of 2020 that a complete diagnosis will enable architects to recommend how to restore it. Once the calls for tenders have been concluded, the beginning of the actual reconstruction will begin in 2021.
The question of the architectural project, which ignites the spirits since April 15, remains completely open: in the same way, as a majority of French and the architect in charge of Notre-Dame itself, or submitting it to a bold architectural gesture, as the executive wants.
It is impossible at this stage to say “how much will it cost, how long will it last,” said Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris. In the speeches, Emmanuel Macron’s five-year deadline for the completion of a cathedral “more beautiful than before” is now modestly described as a “goal”.
While the worksite was delayed this summer by an interruption due to the lead warning, the absolute urgency is to avoid any risk of sagging of the vault: the main danger comes from a scaffold of 500 tons mounted before the fire around the spire, and that the extreme heat of the fire of the frame welded. Each of its falling bars could cause the irreparable. “It’s not scary, it’s a physical reality,” says Christophe-Charles Rousselot, delegate general of the Notre-Dame Foundation.
Multiplied by three
To prevent sagging, hangers were installed under the flying buttresses. With this bill and many others, especially for anti-lead sanitary measures, the budget for consolidation has increased threefold, from 30 million euros on April 15 to 50 million in June, then 85 million.
The very expensive site to dismantle the old welded scaffolding will last several months. “Another scaffolding has to be installed at the top so rope climbers go down and cut bars piece by piece,” says the archbishop.
Floors will also be installed on and under the vault, which will finally make it possible to know how fragile it is, to consolidate it, to analyze the Lutecian limestone stones and see if they should be replaced.
This security should not be completed until the end of spring 2020. Hopefully, the nave could be partially reopened to worship. But it will be necessary to foresee – on the forecourt or the neighboring Hotel Dieu – temporary structures for the faithful, the tourists.
Lead pollution can continue to give nightmares to various stakeholders. High levels are still detected in gaps in the forecourt – still closed – despite decontamination work.
Another unknown is the investigation of three investigating judges on this fire whose origin is probably not criminal but due to malfunctions and negligence. Companies, the diocese, the State … Who will be the designated officials?
An army in the field
Such a multifaceted shipyard requires a leader, such as an army in the field. The public institution provided by the Notre-Dame law will be established in November. His foreshadowing is underway, with the selection of teams of General Jean-Louis Georgelin, chosen by Emmanuel Macron to advance forcefully. “It must be put off,” says the former chief of staff.
It is at the end of 2020, when the “restoration party” will be presented to the State by the team of architects of historical monuments, that will be discussed what will be done, especially for the destroyed arrow.
“It must be done again in the same way,” said Philippe Villeneuve, chief architect in charge of the cathedral, in June, underlining the “great strength” of the Viollet-le-Duc spire, which fitted perfectly with the head of the cathedral. medieval work because it was precisely “not datable”.
He thus distinguished himself from the will of the President of the Republic to inscribe a “contemporary gesture” on the emblematic building and joined the wish of a majority of French to see the desire for integration to prevail over the rupture. The international competition of architects, him, will take place only if the controversial option of the innovative gesture is retained.
If the cathedral can not support an arrow or if it is decided to rebuild the spire of Viollet-le-Duc – which we have all the plans, the statues deposited before the fire and even the rooster rescued from the flames – the contest will not be necessary, according to an expert in the file. Another competition should take place, under the leadership of the City of Paris, for the renovation of the area frequented by millions of tourists.
As for pledges, we hope for some 800 million euros. Donations continue to flow from France and a hundred countries. That goes from the big checks of patrons like Bernard Arnault and François Pinault, to the euro offered by an eight-year-old child.
Given the lengthening of deadlines, sanitary controls, hyper-sharp expertise, scaffolding to mount, the very high technicality, there may not be too much money in the end for this project pharaonic.
Special Report from Abantika Ghosh