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France to launch contest to determine design of new spire for damaged Notre Dame Cathedral

The French president has said he wants to see the iconic church build 'more beautiful than before'

GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images

The French government will be launching a contest to design a new spire for the Notre Dame Cathedral after the old one was destroyed in a fire.

What happened?

On Monday, the Notre Dame Cathedral caught fire. While much of the building's stone structure survived, the wooden roof and spire were destroyed and the rest of the building suffered serious damage. While an investigation is still ongoing, French authorities have said that they believe the fire was accidental.

Since the fire, billionaires and companies from around the world have pledge hundreds of millions of dollars to finance the cathedral's reconstruction.

What contest?

On Wednesday, the French government announced that it would be holding a competition to redesign the roof of the building.

French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said he thought the contest could give Notre Dame "a spire suited to the techniques and challenges of our time." He also suggested that the contest could result in the building being reconstructed without a spire at all. "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," he said, according to Reuters. He called the undertaking "a historical responsibility."

While the foundation for the cathedral was laid in 1163, the spire was added during a restoration in the mid-1800s by Eugène-Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.

French President Emmanuel Macron said that he wanted to see the church rebuilt within five years "more beautiful than before." However, the cathedral's own rector said that the church would likely be closed to the public for up to six years due to a segment that "has been very weakened," so the actual timetable could be longer than that.

One last thing…
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