It was heart-breaking to turn on the news and see the Notre Dame cathedral burning, but in many ways what followed inspired hope and optimism.
The cathedral is the finest example of Gothic architecture in the world. Nearly one thousand years since work began, and almost 700 years since the original construction was completed, it has been an iconic part of the Parisian landscape for generations. It’s not just one of France’s greatest buildings, but one of the world’s finest examples of architecture.
And that’s why it hurt to see it ravaged by fire. But this is not the first time the building has been damaged. It has been repaired and restored several times in its rich history, and it will be repaired once more.
The core structure of the building is still standing, which not only makes saving this building possible, but it’s strength and stability even in the face of this major fire is another awe-inspiring aspect of its centuries-old construction.
Experts are suggesting that restorations could take a decade or more to complete. That’s probably true. But the fact that there is so much enthusiasm about bringing the cathedral back – from politicians, from millionaires and billionaires, from the public around the world – is so positive. It proves that architecture plays an important role in our lives. Beautiful buildings inspire people to make and do beautiful things.
The rebuilding of the cathedral will be a symbol for hope. It shows that we care about art, about public works and public spaces, and it shows that we can all come together to find recognize what a tragedy this event was, and then all determine together to put things right.
And when Notre Dame cathedral reopens in 10, or even 20 years, I’ll be there among the masses enjoying everything the revitalised building has to offer.