What's going on with the Notre Dame restoration?
November 1, 2019 2:48 PM   Subscribe

 
Thank you for these links, as I had been wondering how the rebuilding was going.
posted by msjen at 4:06 PM on November 1, 2019


Have the billionaires who pledged large sums ponied up yet?
posted by beagle at 4:12 PM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ah, I forgot to link this article which talks about that:

"For now, the public institution responsible for collecting funds to restore Notre-Dame has received almost 13 percent of the promised money from large and small donors alike. “We have received 110 million euros out of the promised 850 million,” Msgr. Chauvet said, explaining that large donors prefer to pay smaller sums in intervals to make sure the funds are used appropriately."
posted by exceptinsects at 4:24 PM on November 1, 2019 [1 favorite]


The problem with institutions such as European cathedrals is that, once they have been built, there is no more need for the skills used to build them, and so they can fade away. Which would be fine if it was considered acceptable to rebuild the Notre Dame using current best practice (i.e., reinforced concrete, prefabricated modular components and such). The alterntaive would be to take a leaf out of the book of the Ise Grand Shrine in Japan and, at a period occurring several times over a human life span, demolish our ancient cathedrals and completely rebuild them using the same techniques and materials as before.
posted by acb at 4:40 PM on November 1, 2019 [10 favorites]


One place employing stone masons in the medieval tradition is Guèdelon Castle in Burgundy. It is a new construction based on nearby historic castles and the builders use traditional tools and techniques. Ruth Goodman's series, Secrets of the Castle demonstrates and explains their work with a lot of background information. Based on the pace of their work I am also dubious about the five year schedule.
posted by Botanizer at 4:44 PM on November 1, 2019 [13 favorites]


This reminds me of this episode of A Craftman's Legacy. I love that show.
posted by exogenous at 5:50 PM on November 1, 2019 [2 favorites]


The irony of it is that with virtually all the old growth forests in Europe long harvested hundreds of years ago it may not be possible to rebuild the Notre Dame exactly as it was.

France no longer has trees tall enough to rebuild Notre-Dame's roof as it was.

According to Notre-Dame's website, 1,300 trees were cut down for its roof between 1160 and 1170, and many could have been 300 to 400 years old at the time.

Alternatives include smaller beams or even a metal frame, though either would be "unpopular with purists."

---

The irony is that they will probably end up using some tropical hardwood from Brazil...
posted by xdvesper at 2:03 AM on November 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


I am also dubious about the five year schedule.

No need to be dubious about that. It's simply not going to happen.
posted by Too-Ticky at 3:27 AM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


IF you are, like exogenous, interested in stone carving, particularly old time stone carving, you will be interested in what Peter Rockwell has to show and tell.
posted by BWA at 5:51 AM on November 2, 2019


Clearly, to maintain a high level of artisan skill, we simply need to burn down a cathedral every 5-10 years. Think of the job creators!
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:36 AM on November 2, 2019 [6 favorites]


Based on the pace of their work I am also dubious about the five year schedule.
Guédelon is also a research project, and its builders do not just build a period-accurate castle: they use period-accurate technologies. I've been there twice and it's quite impressive: everything is done by hand and powered by humans, hamsters, and horses. They make their own tools, build their own ovens, grind their own pigments using local soils, etc. Hopefully, rebuilding Notre-Dame will not be done under the same constraints.

France no longer has trees tall enough to rebuild Notre-Dame's roof as it was.
That was the opinion of the person in charge of the Fondation du Patrimoine, but specialists in medieval carpentry have since corrected this initial assessment: not only most of the oaks needed are in fact "small" and "young" (in oak terms of course), but there are 6 million hectares of suitable oak groves in France and only a few hectares are needed. It's likely that political squabblings about design and money will cause more delays than the construction itself.
posted by elgilito at 8:42 AM on November 2, 2019 [9 favorites]


Building back "exactly as it was" has not only the problem of finding trees that big, but also of repeating the fire risk.
Then there is the lead roofing, which has its own problems, weight and toxicity.

It might be worthwhile to note that in the 1870's, Violet le Duc designed the new spire which was built with iron. The original wood framed spire had been removed in the 1780's as it was unstable in the wind.
posted by rudd135 at 8:43 AM on November 2, 2019 [4 favorites]


Building back "exactly as it was" has not only the problem of finding trees that big, but also of repeating the fire risk.

Not necessarily, if the right fire suppression systems are installed in the "attic" where the timbers are. Heavy timbers spaced our in a truss formation are actually pretty hard to light on fire, and slow burning (which is why US insurers specified heavy timber frame construction, with three-inch-thick tongue-in-groove flooring, for mill buildings in the 1800s). The main problem at Notre Dame was the delay in spotting the fire and calling firefighters (along with lack of any suppression system in the attic such as exists at New York's St. Patrick's Cathedral).

With today's laminated timber technology, timber construction is making a comeback, with some pretty tall buildings constructed or planned using timber structural framing. So if you can safely build skyscrapers out of wood, you should be able to rebuild the roof of a cathedral with it.
posted by beagle at 9:38 AM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


Yes, a properly specced and operational sprinkler system would have prevented the the loss at Notre Dame. There'd be some restoration work but it would have barely been world news.
posted by Mitheral at 9:53 AM on November 2, 2019


powered by humans, hamsters, and horses

I think you mean homme-sters
posted by hangashore at 10:32 AM on November 2, 2019 [2 favorites]


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