A construction company in the Netherlands that specializes in 3D printing is proposing to rebuild parts of Notre-Dame Cathedral that were damaged by the fire.
Rotterdam-based Concr3de is offering its services to help put back the more than 850-year-old French cathedral to its former glory using 3D printing technology.
To prove that it is more than capable of doing the job, the company has already recreated one of the stone gargoyles found on Notre-Dame's rooftop.
Concr3de's 3D Printing Technology
Dutch architects Matteo Baldassari and Eric Geboers started Concr3de in 2016 with the goal of providing customers with unique and more sustainable options for architecture, design, manufacturing, and construction using 3D printing.
Some of the company's early works include ornately designed coral lamps and a section of the 3rd-century Monumental Arch of Palmyra in Syria, which was almost completely destroyed by ISIS forces in 2015.
Following the great fire that engulfed much of Notre-Dame last week, Concr3de proposed to fix the damages by replacing parts of the gothic cathedral with 3D prints.
"We saw the spire collapse and thought we could propose a way to combine the old materials with new technology to help speed up the reconstruction and make a cathedral that is not simply a copy of the original but rather a cathedral that would show its layered history proudly," Geboers told London-based architecture magazine Dezeen.
Concr3de used three-dimensional scans to reproduce Notre-Dame's Le Stryge statue. The gargoyle was one of the sections of the cathedral destroyed by the fire. The company's reconstruction team then used a combination of ash and limestone to replicate the statue.
Using Notre-Dame's Original Construction Materials
By using materials that were left after the fire, Geboers believes it would help address some of the philosophical problems associated with rebuilding the centuries-old cathedral using modern-day materials.
He said simply copying Notre-Dame's original design and pretending that there was never a fire would be tantamount to historical forgery.
Notre-Dame was largely built using Lutetian Limestone that was taken from mines that are now buried beneath Paris and no longer accessible. Meanwhile, the oak beams that were used to build the cathedral's timber roof were taken from trees that existed during the 13th century.
Geboers and his team's plan is to make use of the cathedral's original materials that were damaged during the fire to reconstruct the building. This includes the limestone that was exposed to the blaze's high temperatures.
They would break down the material to the appropriate grade to eliminate the effect of the fire damage, Geboers said.
Concr3de workers used scans of Le Stryge that were found on the internet. They then printed the gargoyle statue using the company's printer known as Armadillo White.
Geboers described the 3D printer as a custom inkjet that has been fine tuned to use stone and other similar materials. It is capable of making precision prints of up to 0.1 millimeter.
He said the Armadillo White can produce any geometry without needing much support. It also allows customizations of materials.
The Concr3de proposal suggests that 3D printing can produce stone vaults to replace the ones that were damaged when Notre-Dame's spire collapsed.
Geboers pointed out that it would be more affordable to 3D print lost sections of the cathedral than to cut new ones from stone.
The company is confident that its technique can help rebuild the Notre-Dame Cathedral within the five-year timeframe set by French President Emmanuel Macron.