The restoration of Notre Dame de Paris is going smoothly, passing several milestones needed before reconstructing the spire.
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The reconstruction effort at Notre Dame de Paris is on schedule for their planned 2024 reopening. Recent progress reports have painted a hopeful picture of the iconic French cathedral, which was catastrophically damaged by the April 2019 blaze. Now, plans for beautifying and updating the areas surrounding the building have emerged as well.
According to The Past, leaders of the project have announced the completion of the reconstruction of the collapsed stone vault in the north transept. This is significant because it will allow the team to begin work on the vaulted ceilings of the transept crossings. The transept crossing is the spot that supported the spire, which crumbled into the building during the fire.
While preparing to restore the ceiling, the team has already erected the 600 tons of scaffolding to reach the 26-meter height required to begin rebuilding the spire. This scaffolding will expand as the spire construction begins, but until then, Notre Dame will appear to be encased in metal poles, almost like a cast for a broken bone.
While the repairs of the damages made to the structure are highly anticipated, equally as important is the cleanup effort continuing within. The teams have already dealt with the toxic lead that was dispersed in the fire, but there are still tons of dust and dirt to be cleaned on the walls, floors, and furnishings. It is estimated that Notre Dame’s walls measure 42,000 square meters.
Meanwhile, art restorers are still diligently working to repair the many priceless works of art that were placed in jeopardy by the fire. These include murals, frescoes, stained glass windows, sculptures, and ironworks. The Past noted that some of the sculptures were irreparably damaged, and these are being recreated by artists and craftsmen.
In December, The Globe and Mail reported that the more than 1,000 trees needed to reconstruct the spire have already been acquired. It will be reconstructed as it appeared before the fire, in the 19th-century design of renowned architect Viollet-le-Duc.
Michel Picaud, president of the charity Friends of Notre Dame de Paris, stated that “the work is proceeding extremely well,” and said that the schedule for reopening in 2024, in time for the Olympics to come to Paris, “seems very solid.” While Notre Dame is planned to reopen in 2024, the restoration will not be completely finished until 2025.
Much of the 2025 work will focus on the landscape around Notre Dame, which will also receive a few quality-of-life updates. Landscape architect Bas Smets told The Globe and Mail that the updates will keep climate change in mind to provide a more comfortable waiting experience for guests and tourists. These include hundreds of trees for shade, as well as trickling water on the stone ground in order to reduce ambient heat. A new visitor’s center is also in the planning phase.
Smets said of the updates:
“We have been thinking about the approach to the cathedral,” Mr. Smets said. The front façade was designed to be seen from bottom to top. “The architecture is meant to draw your eye upward toward heaven,” he added. “Now, as you climb the stairs, you will be taken back into history and see the cathedral as it was intended to be seen.”
NOTE: This article was updated to reflect that Mr. Smets is a landscape architect and is not involved with the building of the visitor’s center itself.