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France to rebuild Notre Dame in its former likeness

World News | Published:

It has been decided not to add modern touches to the fire-ravaged cathedral during its reconstruction.

Notre Dame Cathedral will be rebuilt just the way it stood before last year’s devastating fire.

There will be no swimming pool or organic garden on the roof of the medieval Paris monument, or contemporary glass spire, or other modern twists and to stay historically accurate, it will again be built with potentially toxic lead.

That is the verdict reached by French President Emmanuel Macron, the cathedral’s present-day architects and the general in charge of the colossal reconstruction project for one of the world’s most treasured landmarks.

Mr Macron, who wants Notre Dame reopened in time for the 2024 Olympics, had initially pushed for a contemporary touch on top of the cathedral, prompting eye-catching proposals from architects around the world.

French firefighters tackle the fire at Notre Dame cathedral (Benoit Moser/Pompiers de Paris/PA)
French firefighters tackle the fire at Notre Dame cathedral (Benoit Moser/Pompiers de Paris/PA)

The plan includes recreating the 19th-century spire by Viollet Le Duc that collapsed in the fire, and “favours fidelity to the monument’s form and a restoration of the cathedral in its latest state”, the statement said.

That means the state Notre Dame was in the afternoon of April 15 2019, before fire broke out beneath its roof, toppling its spire, consuming the roof and threatening the rose-windowed twin towers that keep the cathedral upright.

More than a year later, the structure remains unstable.

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Notre Dame before the blaze (Andrew Matthews/PA)
Notre Dame before the blaze (Andrew Matthews/PA)

Actual reconstruction will not start until next year.

The reconstruction plan says it will replicate original materials “to guarantee the authenticity, harmony and coherence of this masterpiece of Gothic art”.

Those materials originally include tons of lead, which is raising concerns among health and environmental groups.

Toxic lead spewed by the fire forced schools in the area to close and prompted a lengthy, painstaking cleanup effort of the historic neighbourhood on an island in the centre of Paris.

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