Expert: how to restore Notre-Dame de Paris?

News

Published: 16Apr2019

"A fire swept across the top of the Notre Dame Cathedral while the soaring Paris landmark was under renovations Monday, collapsing its spire and threatening one of the world's greatest architectural treasures." (CTV News)

Martin Bressani, Director, Peter Guo-hua Fu School of Architecture, McGill University

"The burning of Notre-Dame of Paris is a disaster that raises interesting questions, not only about how renovation sites are managed and secured, or how the French government will be able to finance the future restoration, but about how it should be restored.

Much of the cathedral we were able to enjoy until yesterday was the work of 19th-century restorers, Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc in particular. And much of the imaginary associated with Notre-Dame is a product of the 19th century, starting of course with Victor Hugo’s arch famous Notre-Dame de Paris.

Now the team of restoration architects working for the French government will have to decide whether to restore the monument back to its 19th-century appearance, or aim for a more medievally 'authentic' version. What is the meaning of 'authenticity', and whether or not the 19th century is an 'authentic' part of a complex historical layering are interesting and difficult questions."—Martin Bressani

Martin Bressani, architect and architectural historian, is Professor and Director at McGill University’s School of Architecture. He's an expert on 19th-century architecture in France. In 2014, Bressani has published an intellectual biography of French architect and theoretician Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879) who was involved in restoring Notre-Dame de Paris at the time.

martin.bressani [at] mcgill.ca (English, French)

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