Workers begin to remove the tangle of melted scaffolding

Notre Dame forecourt
Photo: Thibault Camus

Workers suspended from ropes will be lowered into the charred remains of scaffolding that melted atop Notre Dame when the cathedral went up in flames and begin the delicate job of dismantling the 200 tons of metal.

An announcement that the work will start today (8th June) and last through the summer months came Sunday from the office overseeing the restoration of the centuries-old jewel of Gothic architecture ravaged by fire on 15th April, 2019.

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Notre Dame forecourt now open again

Notre Dame
Photo: Jeff Whyte

The body overseeing the Gothic structure’s restoration issued a statement this Sunday the 31st May, saying that the reopening was finally made possible after several deep clean operations took place to remove toxic lead dust from the large forecourt.

To protect public health, the site will continue to “be regularly cleaned and samples also taken” for monitoring and analysis.

The cathedral is still closed, and will be for several years during renovations.

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Gothic architecture past and present

Notre Dame exterior
Photo: Vicente Sargues

A little over a year ago the world nearly lost one of its most recognizable examples of Gothic architecture, as the spire and a sizeable part of the roof of the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris burned to ashes.

Take a quick history of Gothic architecture in order to tease out the lessons this historical style can lend to contemporary architectural design.

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The Notre Dame site will have restoration workers again soon, maybe

Notre Dame exterior
Photo: Denis Meyer

A team will enter the Paris cathedral site on Monday to make arrangements for around 50 construction workers to return from early May.

The public committee for Notre Dame’s restoration, headed by army general Jean-Louis Georgelin, had to find ways to respect social distancing, protect workers and overcome logistical issues before restarting activity.

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When will work on Notre Dame resume?

Notre Dame by night before the fire
Photo: Livioandronico2013
Notre Dame by night before the fire

We don’t know. Even when the virus pandemic has passed, the melted scaffolding is a problem.

Originally erected to restore the 19th-century spire, before the fire of last year, the melted scaffolding around the roof was initially planned to be removed starting March 23rd. Due to coronavirus related measures, the French authorities did not go through with the complicated process.

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So today (April 15th) is a year after the Notre Dame fire

Protection for missing roof
Photo: Brian Katz

And everything has changed, No one could have predicted coronavirus and the disruption it would cause to human society, but we are where we are.

French President Emmanuel Macron issued a nationwide stay-at-home order on March 16 to prevent the spread of the virus. The artisan builders who were part of the rebuilding operation were sent home the next day. It’s unlikely restoration will resume any time soon.

Meanwhile on BBC Four tonight (April 15th) , at 9pm UK time (so 10pm in Europe), there is a documentary on the restoration so far, but done before the virus paused everything.

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Notre Dame held a strange Good Friday service

Person in mark cycles past Notre Dame
Photo: Christophe Ena

Archbishop Michel Aupetit and three clergymen who accompanied him wore hard hats as they entered the damaged cathedral that is closed to the public and which he described as “half collapsed.” They then took off the helmets for the ceremony, in front of a large cross and the gaping hole in the cathedral’s roof.

Notre Dame came back to life,  if only for a fleeting instant,  in a Paris locked down against the coronavirus.

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A small Good Friday service will be held at Notre Dame

Notre Dame in restoration
Photo: Reuters

But don’t attempt to go to Notre Dame.. With the current lock-down in France because of coronavirus the service will only be attended by seven people, although it will be televised in France.

The service will include a wreath rescued after the fire at Notre Dame almost a year ago.

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