France is set to host an international architecture contest to help rebuild the spire of the Notre Dame Cathedral following the devastating fire that engulfed the Parisian landmark on Monday.
The fire that began at the 93-meter spire’s base ravaged through until it collapsed and ended up spreading the flames to the cathedral’s ribbed roof, which was made of hundreds of oak beams, including some dating back to the 13th century, according to The Guardian. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe has now announced the contest, which is aimed at giving “Notre Dame a spire adapted to techniques and challenges of our times.” He also said that authorities had not yet been able to estimate the total cost of the renovation work that will have to be done to the cathedral in the coming years.
French President Emmanuel Macron is also holding a special Cabinet meeting on Wednesday to discuss the tragedy. He pledged in a public address on Tuesday to rebuild the cathedral within five years, adding that it would be “more beautiful than before.” The country’s government announced that, so far, about €880 million ($995 million) had been raised to help reconstruct Notre Dame.
Bishop Patrick Chauvet, who is the rector of the cathedral, said on Wednesday that it would have to remain closed for five to six years. He added that “a segment of the cathedral has been very weakened,” without specifying which section he was referring to.
French authorities are still to find out the cause of the fire. Investigators are currently interviewing security staff and employees who were working on a restoration project, but they are still not allowed to enter the building as it is too unsafe. Many in Paris who witnessed the raging inferno believed the entire cathedral would be consumed by the fire, but it appears that the main structure remains largely intact. However, there are concerns that the building’s signature stained-glass windows and stone ceilings, which managed to survive the flames, may have been severely damaged.
Per The Guardian, most of the wooden roof beams were burned in the fire, and sections of the concrete vaulting that held up the roof have collapsed. Architects have also identified three main holes in the cathedral’s structure, including in locations of the spire, as well as the transept and the vault of the north transept. The spire’s bronze rooster, which is a symbol of the country, was recovered on Tuesday, and was still recognizable despite being damaged by the heat.