Mon. Aug 19th, 2019

Losing History Forever


I am sure that almost everyone who saw the tragic images of the fire at Notre Dame on Monday would have been deeply saddened at the irreplaceable loss of this iconic building. I lived in Paris for a few years and visited the cathedral many times, and I am truly greatful that I had the chance to fully experience its magnificent architecture.

As an engineer I used to think how I would have built the structure if I lived in the Middle Ages. Now I think how I would rescue and rebuild the cathedral today.


I would first erect a scaffold inside the building, to provide support to the upper walls and to provide a temporary roof to weatherproof the remains. This could be adapted later to provide a working platform at roof level and acess to the walls.

Then carry out a 3D laser scan to get an accurate and detailed survey of the remaining structure. The roof trusses could then be refabricated using laminated timber, and covered in a lighter coating than the original lead – but which would be visually identical from below. Any replacement stonework can be cut to shape using CNC technology.

A new ring beam would need to be built above the altar as a base to support a new spire, which would be prefabricated off site and lifted in place by crane, and it should all be possible within 5 years.

But this misses a fundamental point – it would be a replica. You can not replace 800 years of history, and unfortunately this has been lost forever.

Yma O Hyd

And this brings us back to Wales. We have a rich culture and an ancient language that has survived despite hundreds of years of persecution and forced assimilation by our neighbours. We are still here – but for how much longer ? A combination of UK Government unionist propoganda, globalisation and the English dominated internet means that Wales may cease to exist as we know it in a few short years. And once it is gone we can not replace it. Of course we can create a replica – an artificial Welshness for the tourists – but we can not replace 800 years of history. We must protect it now while we still can.

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