Knaval Architects

Yesterday I said this:

I have no doubt Notre Dame will be restored, but there will be small but noisy campaigns for the money to be used elsewhere or the building replaced with something “more inclusive”.

Sure enough:

Yet the damage wrought by the Notre Dame fire has also raised important questions about the cathedral’s symbolic significance in an increasingly divided France, and how to rebuild (or which version of the cathedral should be rebuilt) going forward — and in some ways, these questions are one and the same.

It has been my experience that anyone who uses the term “going forward” is either trying to distract you from a catastrophe of their own making or is trying to sell you something which goes very much against your interests.

But for some people in France, Notre Dame has also served as a deep-seated symbol of resentment, a monument to a deeply flawed institution and an idealized Christian European France that arguably never existed in the first place. “The building was so overburdened with meaning that its burning feels like an act of liberation,” says Patricio del Real, an architecture historian at Harvard University.

If the claim is that “some people in France” resent Notre Dame, why the need to quote an American academic? Surely a Frenchman on the streets of Paris would suffice, no? Or did they tell you va te faire foutre?

What it means to be “French,” however, has obviously changed a great deal over the past few centuries.

I don’t think this is obvious at all. What is obvious, though, is that over the past couple of decades cultural Marxists have done everything they can to destroy any tangible means by which people can feel themselves French.

Although Macron and donors like Pinault have emphasized that the cathedral should be rebuilt as close to the original as possible, some architectural historians like Brigniani believe that would be complicated, given the many stages of the cathedral’s evolution. “The question becomes, which Notre Dame are you actually rebuilding?,” he says.

The one that was there last week, you cretin. And why does anyone care what an Italian professor in New York thinks?

Any rebuilding should be a reflection not of an old France, or the France that never was — a non-secular, white European France — but a reflection of the France of today, a France that is currently in the making.

Ah, finally we get to it. These grifting foreigners don’t want the French to restore Notre Dame to how it was, they want some steel-and-glass monstrosity to arise in its place, preferably bearing their name. That, or a mosque.

“The idea that you can recreate the building is naive. It is to repeat past errors, category errors of thought, and one has to imagine that if anything is done to the building it has to be an expression of what we want — the Catholics of France, the French people — want. What is an expression of who we are now? What does it represent, who is it for?,” he says.

If it’s up to the French people, why are you sticking your beak in? Now I know this is only Rolling Stone but the ashes on the floor of Notre Dame are still warm and already the postmodernists are turning up with a crane and a wrecking ball. Thankfully I’m confident the French will tell them where to shove it and restore the cathedral properly, but if this were Britain and St. Pauls a blackened shell you can be sure these sociopaths would be welcomed with open arms by half our political class. Knowing both countries quite well, the big difference I can see between France and the UK is the French establishment, at least for now, doesn’t seem to detest France quite as much as the British elites hate Britain. Right now, that’s a valuable edge.

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18 thoughts on “Knaval Architects

  1. Thankfully I’m confident the French will tell them where to shove it and restore the cathedral properly

    Are you sure? Won’t the French’s rather aggressively anti-religious laïcité policy get in the way?

    They may not go full postmodern, but I am not sure Macron won’t jump on the opportunity to erase as much of the Christian / Roman Catholic significance as he can in favour of making a monument to the French State (as embodied, of course, by himself).

  2. The idea that you can recreate the building is naive. It is to repeat past errors, category errors of thought…

    If there were a scale against which to measure arrogance and stupidity combined, it wouldn’t be adequate to encompass this idiocy.

  3. Won’t the French’s rather aggressively anti-religious laïcité policy get in the way?

    Nah, the French are a lot more conservative than people think. When I was in Paris with my Dad last summer we bumped into a huge Catholic procession moving through the centre of town, headed by priests, nuns, and choirboys and followed my a big crowd of civilians. Everyone stood at the side of the roads and watched. I couldn’t imagine this happening in London.

    I am not sure Macron won’t jump on the opportunity to erase as much of the Christian / Roman Catholic significance as he can in favour of making a monument to the French State

    He might, but the French do like their old buildings. Note how they had a revolution but still use the old buildings for all their government works.

  4. I’m an atheist and I find all this aggressive anti christianity as tiresome as any Christian.

    Not just tiresome but a direct threat to us all. Christianity (we can certainly argue what we owe it, what its helped and what its hindered. How good or bad it has been historically etc) is the “home team”.

    This country is culturally Christian and its churlish to deny this, but should it not be, I do NOT want it to be culturally Muslim, hindu, shinto or any other religion. Whatever I, as an atheist, think of it, I do think, in the west proper at least, it has come to terms with the modern world the west created in a way other religions clearly haven’t (and I strongly suspect are incapable of doing). Not perfectly to be sure, but I do think it has.

    Notre Dame is a religious symbol of course, but it is a far more important cultural one. I, and I hope other atheists see this, and I certainly understand what any “inclusiveness” in restoration means.

    Culture isn’t “theirs” to give away, any more than is sovereignty. Both can change over time but that is NOT I suspect (more than suspect) what is intended here.

    Many of those who want to desecrate (that is the right word) religiously AND culturally would call themselves Christians and have genuine and sincere belief. This is what I just can’t get my head round.

    Forget posturing, strutting, self important politicos and religious “leaders” (never far from the arses of the former), this is far more important.

  5. I wonder who actually owns Notre Dame, and thus gets to say how it is restored. Surely not the French government? The Catholic Church is presumably able to tell Macron and his modernisers to eff off.

  6. There’s a wide streak of anti clericalism in France, stronger in Parliament than the country.
    Since nationalising the buildings (1905) the state has signally failed to maintain them. Macron’s refusal to contemplate entrance fees is part of his goal to render churches mere museums where entry is free.
    The solution would be to hand back the churches from the state / ministry of culture / municipality of Paris etc to the Catholic Church, with an endowment to compensate for decades of neglect. Then the church could keep them open for worship and charge fees to tourists.
    That won’t happen. Instead, there will be ten years of bickering, the resignation of at least two sets of architects, a huge but inadequate budget to make the church more “inclusive” before any permanent repair gets underway.

  7. “Knowing both countries quite well, the big difference I can see between France and the UK is the French establishment, at least for now, doesn’t seem to detest France quite as much as the British elites hate Britain. Right now, that’s a valuable edge.”

    One thing I’ve observed on my visits to France is that there isn’t the apology for their history and traditional French culture that there is with Britain.

    Like museums aren’t overrun with cultural marxism. They’re like the museums of my youth in England. The Battle of Normandy museum doesn’t go out of its way to overpromote a few Muslims or contributions by women (there is a section on women’s role in the resistance which is absolutely right).

    Could you imagine a major company in the UK having Cromwell on their logo, like Courvoisier has Napoleon?

  8. I think the billionaires putting up €100M+ will want some say in how it’s spent. They’ll probably have to replace the timber/lead roof pretty much as it was to preserve the appropriate loads on the walls & buttresses. The stone vaulted roof appears to be intact apart from some holes so I would hope they just repair that. They might get a bit silly about something to replace the spire though, and no doubt the lost stained glass will be replaced by some post-modernist trash.

    Glad I saw it a couple of times in previous decades. I’ll be dead or incapacitated before it’s fixed up.

  9. As a Frenchman, watching the fire literally brought tears to my eyes and I’m not a particularly emotional person.

    The crowds watching the fire seemed similarly moved.

    It is hard to overstate the symbol that Notre Dame represents for us, something that I only properly understood 2 days ago. I want to believe that any attempts to rebuild it any different from what it was will not be taken lightly by the French people.

    It was interesting also to have all my English friends text me about it, and how shocked they were.

  10. If the claim is that “some people in France” resent Notre Dame, why the need to quote an American academic?

    Not only an American academic, but one who, judging by his name, is of Iberian or Latin American extraction, not French at all.

  11. S,

    “And so it begins…”

    This is just a terrible idea. People go to places like Notre Dame because they’re old buildings, not for some new bit of Richard Rogers trash stuck on them. You’ll get some architectural worthies coming up with something vibrant and modern, a right kick off in public.

    There are 3D models of Notre Dame out there, painstakingly laser scanned. You’ll save all arguments and all time delays by taking those, fixing any problems and getting a skilled team to rebuild it.

  12. You could replace the spire with a minaret, and dedicate the building as a multi-faith community centre.

  13. The BBC featured interviews with people associated with the rebuild of York Minster after it suffered a similar but less extensive fire in 1984. They’ve rebuilt the damaged transept more or less exactly as it was – oak timbers plus lead roof, and replaced the gargoyles etc that fell off as exactly as possible (except perhaps for some new representations of the master masons involved). Let us hope the French do the same. However York Minster is owned by the Church of England, not the State, and they had a more vested interest in getting it right.

  14. These grifting foreigners don’t want the French to restore Notre Dame to how it was, they want some steel-and-glass monstrosity to arise in its place, preferably bearing their name. That, or a mosque.

    As on C4 “News”: a radical ugly new design to replace the fallen spire

    Where’s Prince Charles when he’s needed?

  15. I feared this might be the case. In my view, the destroyed spire is/was a notable work of art in its own right, designed as it was by Viollet-le-Duc, one of France’s most eminent 19th century architects. It may not have been the medieval original, but it certainly deserves restoration. A UK equivalent might be Tom Tower at Christ Church college in Oxford, which is a later addition by Sir Christopher Wren to an original Tudor building. If something happened to Tom Tower, I’d hope that it also would be restored as it was pre-catastrophe. There is a petition (which may ultimately be in vain) to restore the cathedral to its pre-fire appearance. I think there are many here who might want to sign it:

    https://www.change.org/p/architectes-des-batiments-de-france-pour-la-reconstruction-%C3%A0-l-identique-de-notre-dame-de-paris

  16. I think I see an opportunity for two Notre Dames to be built. One on the Ile De France with modern materials and housing 800 year old organs, and one in Las Vegas using timbers and housing 80 year old gambling grannies.
    Let the model that pays its own way win.

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