When the oak-framed roof of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burned to the ground in the blaze on April 15, people around the world wept over the fate of the iconic 12th-century monument.
Yet thanks to an unprecedented display of global unity, the rebirth of this cultural colossus is now guaranteed.
The cultural administrations of China and France jointly released a declaration on Wednesday in Beijing to kick off a program of bilateral cooperation to rebuild the world-famous cathedral, China Daily reported.
With President Xi Jinping and his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron’s presence during the latter’s state visit to China on Wednesday, the declaration was signed by Liu Yuzhu, director of the National Cultural Heritage Administration and Franck Riester, the French minister of culture, in the Great Hall of the People.
“A loss of cultural heritage means the disappearance of a period of history and culture,” Liu says in a written statement. “It also teaches us a lesson about ensuring the safety of cultural heritage, and prompted us to set red lines for the future that must not be crossed.”
In line with the declaration, a team of Chinese experts on cultural heritage will arrive in Paris in 2020 “as early as possible” to work on the site alongside French conservators.
Liu revealed that the two countries have remained in frequent contact since the fire to explore avenues of cooperation.
“The project will greatly expand the horizons of Sino-French cooperation in terms of cultural heritage,” he says. “It will set a good example to the world.”
China is the first country outside of France to reach an intergovernmental agreement over the renovation of Notre Dame.
Earlier this year, two Chinese designers, with their work Paris Heart Beat, won the championship in a design competition for rebuilding the Notre Dame Cathedral.
According to media reports, the competition was launched by GoArchitect, an independent publisher of books, and it received 226 proposals from 56 countries in all, with over 30,000 people voting during the competition.
The two Chinese designers, Cai Zeyu and Li Sibei, both currently work at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill Foundation (Chicago, US), and respectively graduated from Tsinghua University and Beijing University of Technology.
Three highlights of their design Paris Heart Beat are the Paris Time Capsule, City Kaleidoscope and Mirror Roof.