The members of the Association of Historical Monuments Restoration Companies (GMH) were not convinced by the reconstruction project for Notre Dame de Paris cathedral as it was presented at the Council of Ministers at the Élysée on April 17, 2019.
The GMH represents 232 specialized companies including 94 masonry and stone cutting companies. The association intends to oppose all solutions that would use modern materials, such as a titanium roof or a concrete framework.
“We are restorers. We are restoring Notre Dame to be more or less identical” [to the original], explained Gilles de Laâge, co-president of GMH, from Reuters, on April 26, 2019.
This demanding nature of restoration seems incompatible with the desire to reconstruct the building over a period of five years, as the head of state announced the day after the catastrophe.
Restore while respecting the cathedral
For Gilles de Laâge, the government bill, while it allows simplification and administrative optimization, involves a “big risk,” that of “saying that we can do anything there that we want in that place.” And to insist: “We must find an optimization for Notre-Dame de Paris, but it must be managed and reasonable, respecting the monument.”
Now is the time to secure the cathedral. The structure was severely damaged by the fire and is without a roof. It’s about shoring up the weakened gables and protecting the vault now in the open air from rain. To this end, 80 people are working day and night on this task, which should last about four months.
Then comes the time for diagnosis: “The most important phase is getting to know the complete state of the structure, to establish a bill of specifications and a calendar of restoration,” as pointed out by Frédéric Létoffé, co-president of GMH, anxious to carry out an exemplary restoration. The time of cathedrals is definitely not that of politics.