France initiates international architectural contest to give Notre Dame a “new spire, adapted to challenges of our era”
— FRH-Europe (@FRH_Europe) 17 april 2019
After the catastrophic fire that partially destroyed the religious and cultural landmark, the French government is acting quickly for once. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe vowed to “to give Notre-Dame a new spire that is adapted to the techniques and the challenges of our era“. In order to achieve this feat and look good for the 2024 Summer Olympics Philippe has invited “architects from around the world to submit designs for rebuilding the spire of Notre-Dame cathedral”.
Political criticism of donations
Within 24 hours after the fire started, close to 1 billion euros have been pledged or donated in order to facilitate the reconstruction of the Notre Dame de Paris. Of course, not everyone is satisfied. According to AFP”some leftist politicians argue that the ultra-rich could best help protect the country’s cultural heritage by fully paying their taxes — or helping the “human cathedral” of people in need.”
French corporations are eligible for a 60% rebate on their cultural donations. In a move to outshine all others one such benefactor announced “The donation for Notre-Dame of Paris will not be the object of any tax deduction. Indeed, the Pinault family considers that it is out of the question to make French taxpayers shoulder the burden.” Whether that will appease the politicians remains to be seen.
Timelines for politicians and restoration
In the meantime, Macron announced he wants the rebuilding “finished within five years.” This is, of course incidentally, just in time for the Olympic Games in 2024. Here politicians and real experts clash. Eric Fischer, who oversees the restoration of the 1000-year-old cathedral in Strasbourg states “I’d say decades” when asked for a timeline on the restoration of the Notre Dame. This appears a little closer to the truth, since one of the biggest tasks involved is replacing the precious oak “forest” of beams that held up the roof.
The same pattern can be observed for the investigation into causes for the fire. Politicians were quick to exclude deliberate action for the cause of the fire, yet the Public prosecutor Remy Heitz notes the investigation will be “long and complex”.