PARIS - France will open the redesign of the Notre-Dame de Paris' iconic roofline to international architects after Monday night's blaze gutted the oak-framed structure and sent its 300-foot spire crashing through its vaulted ceiling, the prime minister said on Wednesday.
President Emmanuel Macron pledged in a prime-time televised address to the nation on Tuesday that Notre-Dame, one of France's best-loved symbols, would be rebuilt within five years. Tycoons and international firms have promised financial and expert help.
Notre-Dame de Paris was built over nearly 200 years starting in the middle of the 12th century, though it was only in the mid 1800s that architect Eugene Viollet-le-Duc added the lead-covered spire during restoration work.
"The international competition will allow us to ask the question of whether we should even recreate the spire as it was conceived by Viollet-le-Duc," Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told reporters.
"Or if, as is often the case in the evolution of heritage, we should endow Notre-Dame with a new spire."
As he spoke, firefighters were using a crane to hoist supports to stabilise a fire-ravaged pinnacle that houses one of the cathedral's historic rose stained-glass windows.
There was no immediate danger that the centuries-old structure would collapse but statues were also being removed to reduce the risk of movement now that it was no longer supported by the oak-framed roof, the fire service's spokesman said.
(Reporting by Jean-Baptiste Vey Writing by Richard Lough Editing by Frances Kerry) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +33 1 49 49 53 84;))