As a historian who works with material culture, I am well aware of the challenges that come with working on historical buildings, especially those that have been listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Nevertheless, Notre Dame’s new roof should be a representation of the architecture of the first decades of the 21st century, more in the spirit of the pyramid at the Louvre than the spire that no longer defines the Paris city silhouette.
An acknowledgement of Notre Dame as the result of worldwide impulses across the centuries can be found in the French government’s decision to put out a global call for architects to participate in a competition to rebuild Notre Dame. In the words of French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, the new roof of the cathedral needs to be “adapted to the techniques and challenges of our era,” and is called for by “the evolution of heritage.”
A roof of that kind would be a reflection of an event that has added a new scar to an already battle-hardened building.