Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris on fire.

Casey Pelous

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It might turn out okay. I.M. Pei's about 100 years old now, so he's probably not available .....so that's in their favor.
 

Veritable Quandry

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By the way the little tower on top of the roof which collapsed does not belong to the original plan; it was build in the 19th century. It is an element absolutely uncommon in French gothic.
There was a spire in the original plan, and it stood for about 500 years before it was removed due to deterioration of the structure. For a while there was no spire until the major renovation in the mid-19th century.

eta: Here's a 15th century view with the spire visible between the towers.
 

Soen Eber

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I wanted to buy something from the Notre-Dame gift shop for a friend whose birthday is coming up (Panier d'achat) but, well, it's in French, obviously, with no English link, and I'm not even sure if they'll ship to the U.S. Does anyone know of another source for it (so the money goes to the right place, not that it really means anything but still...), or would some kind French soul be willing to purchase and ship it for me with payment up front?

First hand knowledge would be appreciated ... by now the scammers and other low-lifes have probably flooded the Internet by now.

Thank you, in advance.
 
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Innula Zenovka

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These oaks in Versailles were once planted for the purpose to replace the roof beams of the Notre Dame one day.
The guy who (I think) originally posted that on Twitter has removed it, since the claim was questioned and he now says



As he says, the trees in the picture don't look much like oaks anyway, and it seems (at least according to this thread in Reddit) that the Versailles press office don't think it's true.


Even if there were a stand of 500--odd oaks planted back then, specifically for this eventuality, I'm not sure about removing them all right now. Certainly I'd hope they consider alternative building materials before removing so many well-established trees that can quite possibly live for another couple of hundred years.
 

detrius

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France announces contest to redesign Notre Dame spire



It will be interesting to see what comes out of this. There are years of assessment and stabilization ahead, so they have time to think about how to proceed. Many wooden roofs have been replaced with metal (which may require additional bracing, that would help with the wreaked walls where the heat may cause cracking and deformation). But apparently there is a grove of oak trees set aside if they wish to put another stack of kindling on top of the building. They can also explore hiding a fire suppression system inside the structure if they go with wood.
I propose equipping the new spire with an emergency launch system so it won't crash into the church the next time the roof catches fire.

 

Bartholomew Gallacher

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I propose equipping the new spire with an emergency launch system so it won't crash into the church the next time the roof catches fire.

Sounds like something Donald Trump would come up with... maybe they could use the collected hot air he produces over one month as fuel for the propulsion system.
 

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Sounds like something Donald Trump would come up with... maybe they could use the collected hot air he produces over one month as fuel for the propulsion system.
How about a tank of pressurized fire retardant foam as the propellant?
 

danielravennest

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My understanding that either a relic or a cathedral was the middle ages version of a moon shot. It placed you "on the map" and just having one turned your city into an economic engine and a seat of power ... well, more than it was, anyways, since it took serious resources to build one.
Literally, a cathedral is the seat of a bishop. The Paris cathedral was important because it was the home of the French kings. Saintly relics (or in Notre Dame's case of Jesus) served several purposes. They served as pilgrimage attractions, which like all tourism, brought in revenue. Relics were thought to be a "power up" for sacraments, and lent an extra air of authority to the bishop's pronouncements. Cathedrals also served as public spaces. They were the only buildings large enough for the whole community to gather, and frequently hosted market days and merchants. They were also educational. Most people of the time were illiterate. Even Stephen and Mathilda, 12th century English royals, couldn't sign their names. A cathedral was in effect a picture book, via statues and stained glass windows, telling religious stories. Lastly, they were status symbols for nobles and guilds who endowed chapels and were interred there. Even today, notable people get buried in Westminster. The modern equivalents are naming sports stadiums and university and office buildings.

Medieval masons were the "general contractors" for building cathedrals and other stoneworks, like castles. This is similar to how carpenters are often the general contractors for house building today. Stone and wood respectively are the primary construction materials. Masons were also the architects, because architecture wasn't a separate field yet. These projects took so long that the masons built on-site housing, called "lodges" where they lived, and also oversaw the work. Typically the bishop, or one of his underlings was responsible for raising the money for it. The unskilled work was often supplied by the community, with different wards or parishes taking turns supplying laborers. Didn't take much skill to walk the great wheel used for lifting stones. Basically a giant hamster wheel:

 

Kara Spengler

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I felt devastated seeing such an architectural icon of historical significance burn but I was heartened to see that so much was saved too. I agree, I think though that we will see a lot of debate going forward on how to restore it simply because like a lot of historical buildings in Europe, it was changed throughout the centuries.

The same sort of thing happened after the Great Flood of 1966 in Florence Italy. They are still debating some of those restorations to this day.
From an architectural point of view this is a minor setback. Most of the structure is not flammable, no matter what happened to the wooden contents. Rebuilding the roof will happen, there are too many concerned interests who would not want a gaping hole there for long. Sure, they will probably need to shore things up too, but that is all behind the scenes work.
 
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danielravennest

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The whole roof framework of Notre Dame was made out of wood; centuries old wood (the eldest parts build in the 13th century), which of course was very dry and flammable. So finding "some dry, rotten wood" was not hard to do, but inevitable - though I doubt that it was rotten. If it were, it would have been replaced long ago, because rotten wood cannot handle the pressure of a roof structure.
The roof of Oxford's common dining hall are replaced every 500 years. When they do that, they plant new oak trees for the next replacement. The foresters pass down the instructions across the generations: don't cut these trees, they're for the Oxford Commons. Best example of long-term planning I've ever heard of. Ideally you want long straight beams, free of knots for the best strength. You get that in a forest, where trees grow up, instead of out, and self-prune their lower branches over time. The English Oaks also grow slowly in a forest due to competition, which makes them dense and strong.
 

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