OUR LADY. The architecture office Bas Smets, chosen to redevelop the surroundings of Notre-Dame de Paris cathedral, plans to reinforce its vegetation to cope with climate change. The project in video.

[Updated June 28, 2022 at 3:47 p.m.] Three years after the Notre-Dame fire, the city of Paris has released 50 million euros to redevelop its surroundings in the second half of 2024, at the same time as the cathedral, to a project delivered definitively in 2027. The team of the Belgian architect and landscaper Bas Smets, winner of the project on the transformation of the surroundings of the cathedral of Paris, plans to densify the vegetation and to highlight the facade.

“The surface of vegetation will be increased by 36%” assures the town hall of Paris. Indeed, the parvis of Notre-Dame will be designed as a clearing surrounded by trees from which will leave long tree-lined corridors to offer calm, shade and also freshness to visitors: a technical device will allow the runoff of water on the parvis .

A square made of lawn between the apse and the Seine will take place behind the cathedral. “A link is made with finesse between the forecourt and the Seine, it was a great expectation”, confided the mayor of Paris Center Ariel Weil, to France Info. The visits will start in the basement, for an interior walk giving access to the archaeological crypt and an opening on the Seine.

For a time, the reconstruction of Notre-Dame and in particular of its spire, caused debate between those in favor of modernization and those who wanted it to be reconstructed identically. Not far from a millennium after the beginning of the construction of the famous cathedral, the general principle is to rebuild identically, while offering “a new youth” to the building.

After considering a more contemporary version, this is indeed the decision taken by President Macron in the summer of 2020, after consultation with the National Heritage and Architecture Commission (CNPA), bringing together elected officials, experts and site architects. Among the durable materials that will be used are lead for the roof and oak wood for the frame. “We have chosen continuity. We want to give back to the French, to the whole world, the cathedral they love”, justified on this point Jean-Louis Georgelin, appointed head of the establishment in charge of the reconstruction.

Several experts have expressed doubts about the feasibility of such a project, believing that to meet the deadline announced by Emmanuel Macron of five years, it was impossible to restore the wooden frame to an identical one. Only the use of modern materials, such as steel or concrete, would make it possible to meet the delivery time announced according to them.

IN IMAGES, IN PICTURES. The architectural possibilities offered by the monumental construction site of the cathedral have inspired the world’s greatest masters in the field, who have submitted various projects, more or less modern, close to the original or completely futuristic.

The reopening of Notre-Dame is scheduled for 2024. “In 2024, you will see in the sky of Paris the spire shining which will no longer be the spire of Viollet-Le-Duc but of Philippe Villeneuve [the architect in charge of the reconstruction – NDMLR]!” declared General Jean-Louis Georgelin at the start of the work. A Te Deum was announced on April 15, 2024 within the cathedral even if the Minister of Culture Roselyne Bachelot and General Jean-Louis Georgelin himself have warned that the work will undoubtedly continue well after the reopening.

The forecourt of Notre-Dame could not be reopened until the spring of 2020, a reopening delayed both because of lead pollution and then containment issues.

After the site securing phase, the Notre-Dame construction site progressed with difficulty. For months, it will have been necessary to evacuate the debris from the frame piece by piece, then dismantle the gigantic scaffolding which had been put in place for the work in progress on the roof at the time of the fire. All with the disruptions caused by persistent lead pollution and the coronavirus epidemic, requiring drastic measures of distancing and hygiene. The second phase, devoted to the study of the inventory, involving the diagnosis and the true cost of the restoration, followed, which also took months.

The reconstruction phase itself could not begin until the beginning of 2022. A thousand oak trees from France were offered, mostly from five regions (Burgundy, Center Val de Loire, Grand Est, Pays de la Loire, Normandy) for the main framework. Half of them come from public forests, half from nearly 150 private forests. After cutting, drying on site, “skidding” (transfer to the edge of the roads) and cutting, they had to be transported to around twenty sawmills. Towards the beginning of 2023, they will be transported to the workshops of the carpenters, who will follow the plans of Viollet-Le-Duc for an identical reconstruction. Oaks have also been donated by foreign donors. In a later phase, it will be necessary to redo the medieval frameworks of the nave and the choir with thousands of other trees, younger this time.

IN IMAGES, IN PICTURES. Emmanuel Macron, who visited the site of Notre-Dame for the two years of the fire, maintained the commitment to rebuild the cathedral for 2024…

Heritage experts have given the green light to the future interior redevelopment of Notre-Dame de Paris on December 9, 2021 only. A favorable opinion with two reservations: the place of statues that they wish to keep in the chapels and the pews “for which the clergy must review their copy”, specified the Ministry of Culture to AFP. The project called for benches on wheels, equipped with luminaries, which the experts would like to judge on the basis of prototypes. While the choir was to be transformed into a prayer space, the experts also expressed their veto, “fearing that the floor, which dates from the 18th century, will be damaged by the passage of the faithful and tourists”.

The Ministry of Culture, for its part, reaffirmed that contemporary works should take their place alongside the original paintings, but “no name of artists has yet been decided”. A proposal highly criticized by a hundred personalities, including the host Stéphane Bern or the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, in a forum published in Le Figaro and the Tribune de l’Art at the end of 2021.

Philippe Villeneuve is a Knight of Arts and Letters, and has directed the restoration of Notre-Dame Cathedral since 2013, when he succeeded Benjamin Mouton. At the time of the fire, he was in charge of the work on the Viollet-le-Duc spire, which completely disappeared in the flames. Since then, the Minister of Culture has renewed his confidence in him, and he is now leading the work to secure the building, before the actual restoration work can begin.

Previously, Philippe Villeneuve distinguished himself in the restoration of several museums, but above all for his work at the Château de Chambord, where he was responsible for the gardens and the restoration of the keep, as well as the construction of the reception hall.

On Monday April 15, 2019, shortly before 7 p.m., a fire broke out on the roof of Notre-Dame de Paris. One of the biggest disasters of recent years in the capital begins. For nearly 15 hours, the firefighters will take enormous risks to try to save the building, close to collapsing. They will only begin to bring the fire under control and stabilize the situation in the middle of the night.

From the start of the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris, images of the tragedy circulated en masse on social networks, before news agencies took over. All evening, photos of the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris showed huge flames escaping from the roof of the building, in a thick cloud of smoke. The collapse of the spire of Notre-Dame on itself was another episode rich in dramatic images. On Tuesday, new images were unveiled by AFP, photos taken inside the cathedral, on which we see the extent of the damage in the nave.

The exact causes of the fire at Notre-Dame de Paris on Monday April 15, 2019 are unknown at this stage, but the monument was undergoing restoration work when the fire broke out. An investigation was opened by the Paris prosecutor’s office to determine the circumstances of the start of the fire, and entrusted to the judicial police. The investigation phase in the rubble is over. A long phase of analysis of the samples must still last several months to try to identify the origin of the disaster. Only one thing is certain: it is not a criminal act, the police having not found any criminal origin at the start of the fire.