On 15 April 2019, a fire broke out in one of the world’s most famous Catholic churches, Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral. The results included the destruction of the roof and spire of Notre-Dame-de-Paris and damage to the interior furnishings. Fortunately, the main vaults and most of the relics remained intact. Either way, the restoration will cost more than one billion euros and will take about five years to complete. However, according to the sceptics, the restoration could take up to ten years. The most likely cause of the fire is thought to be a short circuit during the restoration work. As the building was under partial restoration at the time of the fire. For the same reason, 16 original sculptures had been removed from the roof a few days before the fire. During the fire itself, the main church relics inside including the crown of thorns of Jesus Christ were rescued.
The restoration of the monument of architecture is financed by the state and an international foundation, and the best specialists in the world have been invited for the restoration. However, drawings and the layout of the building are also needed with which difficulties have arisen. As the first stone of the Cathedral was laid back in 1163 under Louis VII, the first blueprints have of course not been preserved. Moreover, during more than 850 years of its existence, Notre Dame de Paris has been restored several times. The work of Andrew Tallon and Caroline Meeus has come to the rescue. Andrew Tallon was an art historian and professor who created accurate 3D models of the cathedral and the surrounding buildings during his research. Caroline Meeus, for her part, is a game developer at Ubisoft. Users of Assassin’s Creed: Unity, released in 2014, could enjoy the beautiful view from the roof of the cathedral as well as the striking detail of the building as the creators of the game spent over two years recreating an exact digital replica of Notre Dame. However, even with a detailed 3D model, restoring such a massive and complex structure is an incredibly difficult process. During construction, certain details have been distorted or deformed causing the entire building to have minor symmetry problems. In addition, reproducing the original construction techniques requires extraordinary skills in engineering, physics and history.
The roof made of 1,300 oaks and lined with 500 tonnes of lead suffered the most damage from the fire, much of which evaporated during the burning process. At the moment, preparations and design for the future roof of the cathedral are underway. It is noteworthy that during the clearing of the area inside the building fragments of sculptures hidden under the thickness of the floor were discovered as well as an ancient sewer and a 13th century lead sarcophagus.
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