Manual lifting of one of the trusses of the nave framework. David Bordes © Rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris.

A tragedy in the middle of summer. For the Notre-Dame restoration project team, the summer period of 2023 will remain that of the accidental death of Jean-Louis Georgelin, during a mountain hike in Ariège, on August 18. Former Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces, the general was appointed in 2019 to head the public establishment “Rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris” by President Emmanuel Macron. He was 74 years old.

Despite everything, the restoration project is going well even though more than four years have passed since the fire of April 15, 2019. Last June, the public establishment announced the “blank” assembly, in the Eure, of first two pieces of the solid oak frame of the nave. These two elements, called "trusses", are only part of the structure which form the monumental framework of the nave with remarkable dimensions: 35 meters in length, 14 in width, 10 in height. In total, the framework of Notre-Dame is made up of 57 “trusses” (11 main and 46 secondary).

Manual squaring of the nave frame. © Guillaume Tampier © Ateliers Desmonts

Dating from the 2024th and XNUMXth centuries, the framework is reconstructed identically and mobilizes numerous skills: engineers, designers, works supervisors, hewers for the manufacture of axes and doloires, and even carpenters. The latter will assemble the structure on site, theoretically at the beginning of XNUMX, according to General Georgelin's schedule. In the meantime, “blank” assembly is a necessary step to ensure the quality of the work.

Manual pruning of the nave frame. © Guillaume Tampier © Ateliers Desmonts

Remarkable fact: carpenters largely use manual tools – the roughing ax and the doloire – to cut pieces of wood. This technique, abandoned by the companions since the XNUMXth century in favor of mechanical tools, was favored in order to remain faithful to the medieval design of Notre-Dame-de-Paris.

Manual lifting of one of the trusses of the nave framework. David Bordes © Rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris.

Before his sudden disappearance, Jean-Louis Georgelin, who was the special representative of the President of the Republic on the site, had paid tribute to the work of the carpenters during the “lifting” of the first frame, intended to test its coherence: “This manual lifting, using human power alone, of a truss of the nave framework, is the demonstration that the know-how inherited from the cathedral builders always has to teach us – and that the union, today like yesterday, there is strength. The carpenters, loving their profession, coming from the four corners of France, sometimes from abroad, brought together their skills to allow the reopening of the cathedral for worship and visits in December 2024. They gave us something to live for today today a magnificent moment of unity. »

The teams of project management, project management, carpenters from Ateliers Desmonts and Ateliers Perrault and trimmers. David Bordes © Rebuilding Notre-Dame de Paris.

Text: Axel G.

04.09.23

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