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3D printing the Notre Dame from its own ashes

Dutch concrete 3D printing firm CONCR3DE suggests to rebuild the Notre Dame by 3D printing its ashes.

Last week, the roof of the Notre Dame in Paris was destroyed in a fire. Since then, President Macron has promised to restore the building and millions of euros have already been donated to make that happen. The question of how the building will be restored, however, is still debated.

Restoring the building exactly as it was is unfortunately impossible. The specialised labour necessary isn’t available in France. Additionally, the oak trees to restore the roof have long since disappeared, and the stone quarries where Lutetian limestone, a typical Parisian stone, was mined, are closed.

But even if all the materials and craftsmanship was available, simply copying the building, pretending there never was a fire, would be a historical forgery, according to CONCR3DE founders Eric Geboers and Matteo Baldassari.

The original design of the church is saved, thanks to a full 3D scan done by now deceased American professor Andrew Tallon. CONCR3DE wants to use this to rebuild the Notre Dame, but with a modern twist: using 3D printing.

They propose is to combine to take the rubble and turn it into new stone of Paris. By collecting the ash, dust and damaged stone, it could be turned into a 3D printable powder. The powder has the same colour as the yellowish grey of Parisian stone, mixed with the charred remains of the wood. Using the 3D scans, lost parts of the Notre Dame can be 3D printed.

As an example, the company 3D printed Le Stryge, a famous demon originally created by Viollet Le Duc in the 19th century. The 3D printed Le Strygre is made from a composite material consisting of lime stone and ash, the same materials as available on the site of the Notre Dame, and is reproduced from a 3D scan.

“We could start reconstruction almost immediately, without need for new expensive and hard to find materials. We also don’t need to train a large crew,” Gebroers and Baldassari say. “The Notre Dame would be able to reopen within several months, and people would be able to participate and interact with the restoration. We wouldn’t need to discard and waste the materials that have so much history embedded inside them, and can instead reuse them for the renovation.”

“We would like the Notre Dame to rise from its ashes like a phoenix. The fire is now part of its long history. The building should show its layered history proudly, and show the world that it has conquered it. The fire can also be the future of Notre Dame.”

For more about the Notre Dame fire, click here.

Photos: CONCR3DE / Prosthetic Head


  1. Michael Chusid says:

    The author’s comment, “Restoring the building exactly as it was is unfortunately impossible… ” is inaccurate as it assumes the reconstruction must take place at an accelerated schedule. The original building took almost 200 years to build. If we accept that standard, there is plenty of time to train craftsmen, grow new trees, and open quarries. The old methods stood the test of time; will the proposed new methods and materials?