April 17, 2019 / 11:20 AM / 3 months ago

France to open redesign of Notre-Dame's spire to international architects

FILE PHOTO: Smoke rises from the burning spire on the roof at the Notre-Dame Cathedral after a fire broke out, in Paris, France April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau

PARIS (Reuters) - France will open the redesign of the Notre-Dame de Paris’ iconic roofline to international architects after Monday night’s blaze gutted the oak-framed structure and sent its 300-foot spire crashing through its vaulted ceiling, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

President Emmanuel Macron pledged in a prime-time televised address to the nation on Tuesday that Notre-Dame, one of France’s best-loved symbols, would be rebuilt within five years. Tycoons and international firms have promised financial and expert help.

Notre-Dame de Paris was built over nearly 200 years starting in the middle of the 12th century, though it was only in the mid 1800s that architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc added the lead-covered spire during restoration work.

“The international competition will allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told reporters.

“Or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire.”

As he spoke, firefighters were using a crane to hoist supports to stabilise a fire-ravaged pinnacle that houses one of the cathedral’s historic rose stained-glass windows.

There was no immediate danger that the centuries-old structure would collapse but statues were also being removed to reduce the risk of movement now that it was no longer supported by the oak-framed roof, the fire service’s spokesman said.

Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Frances Kerry

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