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Notre Dame restoration: how to save an iconic building from fire | World news

John david, the stonemason master at york minster, 9 July 1984 well. At about 2am, and lightning bolt hit the cathedral's south transept and started fire that raged through the building, collapsing the roof and causing millions of pounds worth of damage.

"I remember some people coming to the building in tears," he said. “I didn’t have that emotion. I was just thinking ’s let's get it all cleared and get it rebuilt ’. There was no doubt in our mind that we could repair it, sympathetically, and in the same spirit that it was built. ”

Firefighters surveying the damage to the south transept of York Minster, 1984.

Firefighters surveying the damage to the south transept of York Minster, 1984. Photograph: PA

On Monday night, David watched in horror as the 850-year-old Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned. But he remains optimistic that the building can be brought back to its former glory. "The roof's completely gone there is damage to the vaulting, which does not concern me, but the rest of it is repairable," he said. "There are people who can do it."

According to Prof. Stefan Holzer, from the building archaeology and construction history group at the ETH Zürich University, the first priority needs to be the installation of temporary roof to prevent further damage from "atmospheric influences" such as rain.

He said scaffolding should be erected inside the building to check that the structure was secure. It is possible that the water used to extinguish the fire has caused damage to the plaster, masonry and furnishings, while the high temperatures during the fire may have made the stone work less solid.

Of particular worry at Notre Dame were the rose windows, three immense round stained glass windows that date back to the 13th century. On Tuesday afternoon, they were reported as saved.

The north rose window of Notre Dame.

The north rose window of Notre Dame. Photograph: Steve Tulley Photo Alamy Stock Photo

Sarah Brown, director of the York Glaziers Trust, who preserved the restored stained glass at York Minster, said she had emailed her French counterparts to offer help and support.

"Stained glass, of course, is made in heat," she said. "The glass is made in heat and the painted decoration is fused to the glass surface and it can be surprisingly robust and resistant to fire."

In the case of the York Minster fire, the soldier holds the pieces of glass together, leaving the unsafe structure. The glass also suffered from thermal shock, because of the cold water snake being sprayed on by firefighters, said Brown. "This rapid cooling, with the combination of fire and cooling effect of the water causes lots of little micro-cracks to form on the glass."

On 20 November 1992, a fire broke out in Windsor Castle – one of the official residences of the Queen. The blaze began in Queen's private chapel at 11.15am when the curtain was set alight by a spotlight pressed against it.

The Fire at Windsor Castle, 1992.

The Fire at Windsor Castle, 1992. Photograph: Tim Graham

It caused extensive damage to the eighth of the castle, including the collapse of the number of ceilings. The restoration project cost £ 36.5m and was finally finished in 1997.

Francis Maude, director at Donald Insall Associates, who managed the Windsor Castle restoration, said the Notre Dame project would depend on the availability of materials, but the availability of skilled craftspeople.

He said it was too soon to cost, but the plans for the restoration of the Palace of Westminster, which is estimated to be at least £ 3.5bn. Notre Dame was smaller, he said, but more thoroughly damaged.

He said his work on the Windsor project had provoked and debated about the use of fire resistant materials in any reconstruction – some parts were rebuilt using wooden beams and others using steel. "I think there is a discussion about being the one who had to rebuilt it to replicate the original," he said.

“There are other voices out there that say they can recreate the form of the roof using materials that people use today – and other steel structures that can catch light. With an effective fire suppression system, you can build in oak and have that roof, like the Globe Theater in London. ”

David said he hoped that Notre Dame would be restored in the "traditional way with traditional materials" and that "there was nothing wrong with the materials that the building has been built with".

"You can add fire precaution measures and things like this, but the expertise is there," he said. “Buildings represent so much. They represent a history of a certain period of civilization. And York Minster, like Notre Dame in Paris, represents the city. ”

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