France Announces Competition to Redesign Notre Dame Spire

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced an international competition to redesign Notre Dame Cathedral’s destroyed spire.
John Loeffler

France has begun the process of rebuilding the damage to Notre Dame Cathedral with an announcement today of a contest for international architects to redesign the cathedral’s destroyed spire.

International Contest Announced

The government of France has announced an international competition to replace the lost spire of Notre Dame Cathedral after this week’s devastating fire destroyed it along with much of the cathedral’s roof.


Prime Minister Edouard Phillippe announced the contest today, saying that government officials in charge of the project will need to decide whether the new spire should be a totally new design, or an improved replica of the original spire, calling it a historic decision.

“This is obviously a huge challenge, a historic responsibility,” he said. "Should we rebuild the spire envisaged and built by Viollet-le-Duc under the same conditions…[or] give Notre Dame a new spire adapted to the technologies and the challenges of our times?"

The spire the contest will be replacing wasn’t as old as the church itself. While Notre Dame Cathedral is nearly 900 years old, the spire that was destroyed is only a couple of hundred years old, being added to the cathedral during the 19th century restoration of the church, designed and built by Eugène Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc.

France’s President Emmanuel Macron said in his remarks on Tuesday following the fire that he wants the cathedral rebuilt in five years time, though given the extent of the damage and the amount of work involved, it will likely take much longer to rebuild.

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Not Everyone is Thrilled by the Idea of a Contest

While there is no doubt that rebuilding and restoring the structure of Notre Dame will require experienced architects, the initial response to the proposal has been mixed.

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