Tag Archives: building conservation & reconstruction

The Notre Dame fire: considerations for reconstruction

by Peter J. Larkham

Notre Dame on fire, April 2019
Notre Dame on fire (LeLaisserPasserA38, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 4.0)

On Monday 15 April 2019 fire broke out at the cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. It is hard to think of a more iconic ecclesiastical building in such a key location in such a tourist-historic city. Media images show smoke billowing high into the sky, the high roof burning, and the thin central spire collapsing – all watched by numerous disbelieving locals and tourists.

The cause and rapid spread of the fire have yet to be investigated, although part of the cathedral – where the fire appeared to start – was under repair and scaffolded, and a number of historic properties have been damaged by fire under such circumstances (for example at the National Trust’s Uppark House in 1989, which started from lead workers ignoring carefully drafted “hot work” rules against precisely this risk).  The spread of smoke, heat and fire within the large timber roof voids of major churches is problematic to control and contain. Continue reading The Notre Dame fire: considerations for reconstruction