What will the rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral look like? Montreal video game could offer a hint
Published Saturday, April 20, 2019 1:08PM EDT
Last Updated Saturday, April 20, 2019 7:14PM EDT
The Notre-Dame Cathedral will need major renovations to be restored to its former glory after a fire ripped through the building this week but a 2014 Montreal-developed video game could play a role.
‘Assassin’s Creed: Unity’ takes players back to revolutionary Paris and features a detailed recreation of the famous church, all the way up to its famous spire.
“It’s 5,000 hours of work creating all the different spaces, the details, the texture of all the glassworks,” said Maxime Durand, a historian who works with ‘Assassin’s Creed’ maker Ubisoft. “There’s over 140 unique glassworks in the cathedral and the light has to go through.”
While there has been speculation that architects working on rebuilding the damaged cathedral could turn to the game for reference, Durand said ‘Unity’ is more likely to play a different role.
“I imagine the architects will not use the game to do this, I think it’s more a matter of getting people excited about the rebuilding of the monument, about making sure that history lasts,” he said.
Those rebuilding the cathedral will have hundreds of years of archival documents and digital images to look through but McGill School of Architecture Director Martin Bressani said the new Notre Dame could still end up looking different from the old.
Bressani, an expert on the work of Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-Le-Duc, who built the famous spire in the 19th century, said he hopes whoever takes charge won’t choose to go with a more contemporary look.
“The knowledge is there, documentation is there,” he said. “That’s not the problem. I think the question of time and the actual craftsmanship of doing this will be an issue, perhaps the question of money, though that seems to be okay.”
Since the fire, donors around the world have pledged $1 billion to help with the reconstruction and French President Emmanuel Macron has said the work will take less than five years, though many say such a complex project will take longer.
“The challenge of a roof framing the size and span of Notre Dame would be an enormous challenge,” said Bressani. “I cannot tell you precisely what kind of technical difficulties and craftsmanship difficulties they will confront but it seems fairly big and there will be the temptation to go through with modern materials.”