Cathedral Crisis: by Tu Anh Duong

France is in a hurry to restore the world famous Cathédrale Notre-Dame after a devastating fire destroyed its spire and reduced much of the roof to cinders on April 15th. Emmanuel Macron, president of the French Republic, pledged to rebuild the cathedral within five years. In the weeks that followed the tragedy, a special bill was drafted that would allow the government to speed the project along by bypassing public procurement legislation and laws on cultural heritage.

In the meantime, Paris is scrambling to train enough skilled craftsmen to bring the fire-ravaged Notre-Dame Cathedral back to its former glory. One historical organization, Les Compagnons du Devoir, is taking on as many students as possible and training them with a stunning scale-model of the cathedral’s spire.

Yet, Macron’s apparent determination to rebuild the Notre-Dame as quickly as possible has left many experts worried. More than a thousand architects, conservationists, and academics from around the world urged the French president to exercise caution as he moves forward with plans to rapidly rebuild Paris’ cathedral. Rushing to rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathédrale poses a number of major risks. Primarily, experts will not have enough time to fully gauge the long-term damage caused by the inferno in the months and years to come. Also, project overseers will struggle to coordinate all the various experts needed to restore and reconstruct the cathedral.

Still, many experts are on board with Macron’s five-year deadline. According to an article written by Ebony Bowden from the New York Post, a French architectural firm wants to turn the Notre-Dame Cathedral’s roof into a giant, sustainable greenhouse. The new proposal from studio NAB would see the 856-year-old house of worship’s spire replaced with a glass apiary filled with bees and an indoor garden along the entire roof. In NAB’s re-imagining, the burnt wooden framework of the attic would be reused to create planters in the greenhouse and the original silhouette of the building would remain. The spire and roof, on the other hand, would be replaced with a gold-tone steel structure, covered by giant glass panels.

While President Macron is hopeful to see the great landmark rebuilt soon, it will take time, patience, and lots of money.

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