Notre-Dame restoration bill

Notre-Dame spire will be reconstructed "identically" to how it was before 2019 fire

French president Emmanuel Macron has ended speculation over the future of Notre-Dame by stating that the cathedral's spire will be rebuilt exactly as it was before last year's devastating fire.

Macron has announced that a replica of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc 93-metre-high spire, which was added to the 13th-century cathedral in 1859, will be built as part of the reconstruction.

"The president trusts the experts and approved the main outlines of the project presented by the chief architect, which plans to reconstruct the spire identically," said a statement from the Elysee Palace.

The decision ends speculation over whether a contemporary structure would be added to the French landmark.

Viollet-le-Duc spire to be reconstructed

The decision to reconstructed Viollet-le-Duc's spire aligns with a bill passed by the French Senate last year that stated that the cathedral's rebuilding must be faithful to its "last known visual state".

However, it seems to be a change of direction for the French president who had previously called for "an inventive reconstruction" and said that he planned to "rebuild the Notre Dame so it is even more beautiful than it was".

Following these statement's French prime minister Edouard Philippe announced that there would be an international competition to design the cathedral's next spire. At the time he said: "As is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire."

Designers created many alternative spires

These announcements sparked a huge number of proposals from architects and designers for both the cathedral and its spire.

Designers, including Vincent Callebaut, Miysis Studio and StudioNAB, proposed creating a glass roof to replace the one lost in the fire, while more far-fetched proposals included turning the building into a car park, a swimming pool or a McDonald's restaurant.

There were also a huge variety of alternative spires that could be built to replace Viollet-le-Duc' structure. Italian architecture practice Studio Fuksas suggested creating a spire from Baccarat crystal that would be lit up at night, and French designer Mathieu Lehanneur proposed topping the building with a golden flame.

Macron's decision to support the reconstruction of Viollet-le-Duc's spire was due in part to his desire to see the cathedral rebuilt quickly reported the BBC.

Following the fire, he announced that he wanted the restoration to happen within five years so that it was complete by the 2024 Olympics, which is due to be staged in Paris.

This proposed time scale was challenged by more than 1,000 architecture experts who wrote an open letter to the president urging him to reconsider.

Notre-Dame cathedral in central Paris was largely built in the 13th century and underwent a substantial restoration lead by Viollet-le-Duc in the 19th century. A large fire on the 15th April 2019 destroyed much of the building.

Main image is by Clem.