The fire had not been extinguished, when President Macron announced his will to have Notre-Dame rebuilt inside five years. Medievalists are concerned.
Notre-Dame is an iconic building. Gothic marvel from the 13th century, Parisian landmark since the later Middle Ages, Temple of Reason during the revolution, Romantic Neo-Gothic marvel from the 19th century, and UNESCO World Heritage since 991, The Cathedral of Notre-Dame is nevertheless also a sum of many architectural and historical parts.
When the French president, Macron, called for a rebuilding inside the next five years and added that he would call for an international competition among architects, medievalists and heritage specialists turned sceptical.
To preserve the medieval fabric would first of all call for a delicate registration and study of the building as it stands before even thinking about how to safeguard the inner core. Secondly, it should be carefully considered to what extent older renovations should be respected, they believe. “Surveying a medieval monument is the work of a dozen different specialists. You have to get these people together to understand what they can bring because an edifice like this one is so complex that no single person has all the expertise necessary,” the art historian, Étienne Hamon has pointed out to France 24.
Together with 1170 other historians and specialists, he has been vocal in his opposition to the hastened plans, proposed by President Macron. The project involves the passing of a new law, allowing the responsible authorities to bypass laws protecting the preservation of heritage. Yesterday the signatories from all over Europe had a letter published in Le Figaro, aiming to warn against a hastened rebuilding; and not least a “modernisation” of the building. Together they call for prudence and a sense of responsibility.
The fear of such “vandalism” has grown as and when international architects have begun posting their visions of the future Notre-Dame. Also, the plans have turned into a politically hot issue. While Macron has taken an open and modern position, ultra-right and conservative parties have been trying to foster a heated political dispute as to the character of the rebuilding.
Meanwhile, the web is overflowing with people photo-shopping their more or less brazen ideas.