News | International
24 Apr 2019 6:22
NZCity News
NZCity CalculatorReturn to NZCity

  • Start Page
  • Personalise
  • Sport
  • Weather
  • Finance
  • Shopping
  • Jobs
  • Horoscopes
  • Lotto Results
  • Photo Gallery
  • Site Gallery
  • TVNow
  • Dating
  • SearchNZ
  • NZSearch
  • Crime.co.nz
  • RugbyLeague
  • Make Home
  • About NZCity
  • Contact NZCity
  • Your Privacy
  • Advertising
  • Login
  • Join for Free

  •   Home > News > International

    The medieval design innovation that helped save Notre Dame from total destruction

    As fire ripped through France's iconic cathedral, stone vaults developed in the Middle Ages kept it from being destroyed beyond repair.


    As Parisians gathered around Notre Dame cathedral on Monday, powerless to do anything but watch it burn while fire raged through the structure, there were fears all would be lost.

    In the end, Paris fire chief Jean-Claude Gallet and a French official said the cathedral's iconic towers had been saved,and authorities later confirmed the cathedral's structure was "saved from total destruction".

    According to architectural historians, the cathedral's medieval stone vaults — which served as a buffer for the fire after it burned through the wooden roof — had a hand in this.

    Here's how an innovation developed in the 12th century held Notre Dame together, and what we can expect in terms of restoring the world's most famous Gothic cathedral of the Middle Ages.

    How do the vaults work?

    Dr Robert Bork, an architectural historian at the University of Iowa, told the ABC the cathedral boasts some of the earliest six-part vaults used in the 12th century.

    Innovation and exploration in the Middle Ages resulted in the creation of wider vaults that would better allow for elaborate windows than previous Romanesque churches, he explained.

    "It was a time of a lot of structural experimentation as architects looked to increase the height of buildings, and the amount of light that could get in through bigger windows, and thankfully most of those vaults have held up well, even in Notre Dame today," Dr Bork said.

    "When the spire crashed through [the cathedral], that was a problem obviously and in some places the fire got through, but most of the vaults seem to have survived, which is a testament to how well they were put together in the 12th century."

    The general principle of a vault, Dr Bork explained, is the same as that behind an arch, which sees lots of stones that are relatively small work to span a large space.

    "So, in Notre Dame, [these stones] cross the span which is about 14 metres across on the inside, and they're all essentially wedged together so that when gravity pulls down on each of those little stones, [the structure] is held into place by the friction of its neighbours in a kind of wedging action."

    What this means, Dr Bork said, is that the complete arch or vault will weigh heavily down as well as pushing outwards, and this is where buttresses — which work to reinforce walls — come in to restrain the outward push.

    Had Notre Dame not had these stone vaults, Dr Bork said it was "quite likely" we would be looking at an almost completely destroyed cathedral.

    "The vaults are designed to be in dialogue with the buttressing system of the building … and if [Notre Dame] didn't have them, the buttresses would have just had brick walls and in cases where you just have a timber roof building and the roof burns off, frequently those walls will collapse."

    Long road to restoration

    Notre Dame's 13th-century wooden roof will be replaced, Dr Bork said, most likely with metal.

    The other damage to the cathedral will still be in the process of being evaluated, he added.

    "What's happened to the furnishings, to the stained glass — there are many, many components in addition to the main structure," he said.

    "The coming days are going to involve a lot of trying to understand what we're dealing with, but people will have to be patient," as far as a restoration timescale is concerned.

    "One of the poignant things about this is that Notre Dame is so world-famous, so well-known and so beloved. But this means it will be protected from being rebuilt badly or left to decay.

    "It just takes a lot of time and a lot of money."

    French media have quoted the Paris fire brigade as saying the fire was "potentially linked" to a 6 million euro ($9.5 million) renovation project on the church's spire and its 227 tonnes of lead, taking place as the fire broke out.

    And Dr Bork said he was not surprised by the speculation, which will be addressed in a formal inquiry by the French Government — though he insisted it was too early to draw such links.

    "Because the area where the restoration work was happening was the one that was most badly destroyed, it may be very difficult to find clear, visible traces, but it does seem more than coincidental that what happened at Notre Dame today also happened two decades ago at the Chapel of the Holy Shroud in Turin, Italy.

    "That took two decades to replace … these things do happen when you have people working with equipment in flammable areas," he said.

    "We don't know what happened at Notre Dame, but it does make one wonder."

    © 2019 ABC Australian Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved


     Other International News
     23 Apr: Abigail Disney, granddaughter of Disney co-founder, attacks CEO Bob Iger's 'insane' salary
     23 Apr: Game of Thrones season 8, episode 2 recap: A new knight of the seven kingdoms before Pod plays us out with a song
     23 Apr: Among the carnage of the Sri Lankan Easter bombing attacks the community's solidarity is still visible
     23 Apr: Chinese President Xi Jinping says his job is 'very tiring' in letter to US high school students
     23 Apr: Australian divers Richard Harris and Craig Challen return to scene of dramatic Thai cave soccer team rescue
     22 Apr: What we know about the Sri Lanka bombings at churches and Colombo hotels
     22 Apr: Shantha Mayadunne, TV chef, killed in Sri Lanka attacks just minutes after Easter breakfast selfie
     Top Stories

    RUGBY RUGBY
    Tournament director Karl Budge is confident next year's ASB men's Classic won't be adversely affected by the new ATP World Team Cup More...


    BUSINESS BUSINESS
    Independent commissioners say the economic benefits outweigh the environmental cost of building mooring dolphins to allow bigger cruise ships to tied up in Auckland More...



     Today's News

    Entertainment:
    Charlize Theron has raised her seven-year-old son Jackson as a girl 6:14

    Law and Order:
    A 39-year-old man will appear in court today, charged with the murder of toddler Sadie-Leigh Gardner 4:36

    Law and Order:
    Police are searching for two armed intruders who robbed a man in his South Dunedin home 21:57

    Entertainment:
    Abby Lee Miller has slammed doctors for misdiagnosing her cancer 21:44

    Netball:
    A finals berth last year, fighting to stay off the bottom this year 21:17

    Entertainment:
    Paula Abdul's father has died 21:14

    Entertainment:
    Gina Rodriguez wants to serve pizza when she gets married 20:44

    Entertainment:
    with Stedman Graham 20:14

    Entertainment:
    Kim Kardashian West offered a job by attorney Robert Shapiro - who worked with late father Robert Kardashian 19:44

    Entertainment:
    Alex Trebek is "feeling good" and planning to return to work after a summer break 19:14


     News Search






    Power Search


    © 2019 New Zealand City Ltd