I just heard an update on what has to be the saddest story that we reported on this year, namely the horrific fire in the roof of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, France. At this point they are not convinced that it will be possible to restore it, given the damage to the walls. The other serious and at first unrecognized problem is the lead contamination that has occurred.
Andrew Tallon, a leader in the study of Gothic architecture began scanning the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2001. Although Professor Tallon has passed, that rich, 3D data has just taken on much greater importance as a result of the devastating fire yesterday.
Tallon was an early pioneer in the use of 3D laser scanning to better understand the design, construction and longevity of Gothic cathedrals. He used his first scanner, the Cyrax to begin his study of Notre Dame in the early 2,000’s. By 2005 he had moved up to the Leica HDS 3000 which he used to continue his now critically important documentation of this great building.
In an interview by Angus Stocking in a 2015 Lidar News article, Tallon explained his early use of 3D laser scanning. “Notre-Dame presents a lot of questions about how it was put up, and how it stays up,” Tallon says. “For example, the moment at which flying buttresses were first used here was an open question—and by studying deformation patterns revealed in the scans, I was able to produce new and compelling evidence to back up the claim made by my mentor, Stephen Murray, that the buttresses were conceived and used there earlier than previously believed. With the scan, I could really demonstrate this. In the field of architectural structure, this is the closest you can ever get to proof.”
Tallon was still at work capturing the Notre Dame Cathedral in 2013-2014 using the Leica Geosystems C10 and P20 scanners.
I believe I speak for the 3D laser scanning community when I say we are all extremely saddened to see this incredible structure damaged like this, but at least there is the 3D data to help guide it’s certain return to glory.
There is an important lesson to be reinforced here.
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