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Notre-Dame’s roof should be rebuilt in wood, say architects


S. Pech - Shutterstock

Zelda Caldwell - published on 01/15/20

The storied cathedral would have already collapsed had its spire been built of steel, says a member of the Guild of French Architects.

Arepresentative of France’s top architects said that Notre-Dame Cathedral’s roof should be rebuilt in wood, not in metal or concrete as some have proposed.

French President Emmanuel Macron has said he favors adding a “contemporary” touch in the course of rebuilding the spire which was lost in the April 15, 2019 fire that destroyed its roof. Eric Wirth, a member of an association of the country’s architects, however, weighed in to say that replacing the roof with wood makes sense for practical reasons.

“The most modern and ecological material today is wood,” said Wirth, of the Guild of French Architects. Wirth added that wood is more fire-resistant than the alternatives, and would also trap carbon, according to a France 24 report.

“The cathedral has been there for 800 years. Had it been built in concrete or steel it would not still be there,” he added.

“Even with all the (chemical) protection treatments, given the intensity of the blaze … the steel would have held for half an hour and then it would have twisted, pulling on the walls and everything would have collapsed,” said Wirth.


Read more:
Renovation of Notre Dame’s spire: Team traditional vs. Team “Contemporary”

“We have to be skeptical of seemingly brilliant solutions” that involve metal or concrete rafters, Wirth warned, according to France 24.

Wirth’s remarks come in response to a comment from the army general Jean-Louis Georgelin, who is overseeing the cathedral’s restoration. Georgelin had said that proposals that the roof be rebuilt in oak represent “lobbying” by the wood industry.

So far over $1 billion has been raised to rebuild Notre-Dame, but restoration work has yet to begin. The storied cathedral is still threatened by risk of collapse, according to Georgelin.

“Notre-Dame is not saved,” he said earlier this month. “There is an extremely important step ahead, which is to remove the scaffolding that had been built around the spire,” he said, according to a Euronews report.

Read more:
Video shows extent of damage to Notre Dame

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