Notre Dame spire will stick to 19th Century design

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Getty Images

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The cathedral caught fire in April 2019

The spire of Notre Dame cathedral, which was destroyed in a fire last April, will be restored according to the original Gothic design.

French President Emmanuel Macron announced the decision, putting an end to speculation that the spire would be rebuilt in a modern style.

Mr Macron had previously hinted he was in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.

However he has said he wants the restoration to be completed by 2024, when Paris is hosting the Olympics.

The Elysée said Mr Macron’s main concern was “not delaying the reconstruction and making it complicated – things had to be cleared up quickly”.

It added that the process of designing a modern spire, with an international competition for architects, could have caused unnecessary delays.


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Media captionInside Notre Dame, now missing its roof and medieval spire

“The president trusts the experts and approved the main outlines of the project presented by the chief architect which plans to reconstruct the spire identically,” the Elysée said.

The announcement followed a meeting of France’s national heritage and architecture commission (CNPA).

When the 13th century roof of the Paris cathedral caught fire during restoration works in April 2019 it sparked a vast outpouring of emotion, as well as donations from across the world.

Within two days about €900m ($1bn; £805m) had been raised for the cathedral’s restoration.

The cathedral’s first spire was built in the 13th Century, but due to extensive damage it was removed in the late 18th Century. Its replacement, designed by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc, was built in the mid-19th Century.

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Ulf Mejergren Architects

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One architects’ firm drew up plans for a rooftop pool on the cathedral

Since last year’s fire, discussion over how to restore the spire has been tense.

Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general put in charge of the reconstruction effort, wanted a modern alternative. This idea appeared briefly to have President Macron’s backing, when he said he would be in favour of a “contemporary gesture”.

This sparked a wave of unconventional proposals from architects around the world – including one design with a rooftop pool, and another with a giant park and greenhouse on the roof.

But the cathedral’s chief architect Philippe Villeneuve spoke out strongly in favour of a faithful restoration to the previous, 19th Century design.

In one particularly heated exchange last November, Gen Georgelin told Mr Villeneuve to “shut his mouth” – causing audible gasps in a meeting of the National Assembly’s cultural affairs committee.

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