Notre Dame’s Rooster Returns as Crews Work on Cathedral’s ‘Forest’

Less than one year before the full reopening, Notre-Dame's 500-plus construction crew is working on the cathedral's la forêt or "internal forest"

Sun 24 Dec 23


As Christmas approaches, Notre Dame Cathedral has a new golden rooster as work continues on the billion-euro-plus restoration – with 848 million euros already raised for its restoration.

On Saturday, Laurent Ulrich, the archbishop of Paris, blessed the artefact before being placed atop the cathedral’s 96-metre-high wooden spire.

The new rooster, designed by Philippe Villeneuve, one of the architects leading the cathedral’s restoration, replaces the original damaged by the 2019 fires. 

Mr Villeneuve said the new rooster’s “wings of fire” were a reminder that “the cathedral can be reborn from the ashes, like a phoenix”.

Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral gets a new golden rooster, part of its renaissance from the ashes of the 2019 fire that severely damaged it, and ahead of its reopening next year – footage courtesy of @WION.

The rooster holds major significance in the Christian faith and is also one of the symbols of France, found on the strips of the national football and rugby teams, among others.

It also contains relics saved from the April 15, 2019, cathedral fire and a sealed document with the names of the 500-plus construction workers (and the late Jean-Louis Georgelin) who have and continue to work on its reconstruction.

Last month, Wood Central reported that crews were now working on the nave and choir timber frame, historically known as la forêt or the forest.

image 27
Construction crews are now working on installing the timber framework over the vaults. (Photo Credit: Patrick Zachmann, Magnum Photos)

Once a dense web of old-growth timber – where 13th-century builders harvested 5000 oak trees from 522 hectares of an ancient forest – the new forest will support the roof with its 200 tonnes of lead cladding and the cathedral’s oak-and-lead central spire.

Wood Cental understands that construction crews began installing the massive framework, 32 metres long, nearly 14 metres wide and 10 metres high, for the choir in May, with the installation of the timber framework over the vaults continuing into the new year after some delays.

Made up of 35 trusses and 22 half-trusses, forming six bays and a semi-circular apse, carpenters combine 800-year-old construction techniques and 3D modelling to speed up the reconstruction.

According to the Friends of Notre Dame De Paris, carpenters must follow strict guidelines in handling the raw material – which, according to the late Jean-Louis Georgelin, is crucial in “restoring this cathedral as it was built in the Middle Ages.”

“It is a way to be faithful to the [handiwork] of all the people who built all the extraordinary monuments in France.”

At the same time, acoustic engineers are also working on the internal sound, “mapping out the cathedral’s acoustics, calculating how sound reverberates against each interior feature of the building.”

Last month, Wood Central reported that engineers are using a recorded concert, known as the “Ghost Orchestra Project”, and a computer model to determine how acoustics vary between sections of the cathedral.

“We are painting audio frescos,” according to acoustic engineer Brian Katz, who said teams also use “a medieval castle from the same period and the same tools to recapture the original sounds of Notre Dame’s construction.”

Footage courtesy of @LAMSorbonneUniversite.

According to Mt Katz, the sound inside the cathedral has evolved as construction materials have changed.

“In the Middle Ages, before there was all this seating, the floor would have probably been covered with straw or hay to absorb, you know, water and mud from people.”

“Then there was the transformation from a religious to a mass tourist site,” he said, adding that “carpeting was added in the ’90s to reduce footfall.”

Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron said he intends to invite Pope Francis to the reopening on December 8, 2024.

The restoration of the UNESCO-listed building, which had 12 million visitors a year before the fire, is forecast to welcome 14 million visitors a year after it reopens.


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