A new robe for Notre-Dame

GEDA construction hoists support restoration of world famous cathedral in Paris

Notre-Dame Cathedral is one of the most visited tourist attractions in Paris. Every year, it attracts millions of visitors from all over the world to the Ile de la Cité in the French capital. But the “old lady” is getting weak. The world famous, centuries-old cathedral is currently undergoing extensive restoration work – supported by a transport platform and two passenger and material hoists from the manufacturer GEDA-Dechentreiter GmbH & Co. KG.

Notre-Dame de Paris is the cathedral of the archdiocese of Paris and can look back at over 850 years of history. The cornerstone was laid in the 12th century, and the masterpiece of French Gothic architecture was built in four phases between 1163 and 1345. This makes Notre-Dame one of the earliest Gothic cathedrals in France. It would be hard to find a visitor who is not amazed by the imposing monument. Up to 10,000 people can fit into the 130 metre long and 48 metre wide nave.

The “old lady” is crumbling

A first glance at the majestic main façades with its two towers makes is hard to believe that the famous landmark is struggling with great problems – the centuries have left significant marks on this impressive Gothic structure.
The structural fabric is crumbling in numerous places, with weather and air pollution taking their toll: The stone on the flying buttresses is highly worn and the popular gargoyles have lost their facial features. In addition to this, water is leaking into the spire at the centre of the cathedral, which in turn has an extreme impact on the roof trusses. Pieces of stone are visible in many places where they have fallen on lower roofs – a safety risk for the numerous visitors.
Those responsible are no longer just worried about the appearance of the building, but also about its structural integrity. In Gothic architecture, all elements are crucial to the structure of the overall building. The flying buttresses, for example, support the main vaults from the outside, while the weight of the small turrets at the end of the buttresses in turn ensure the stability of the overall structure.

When it comes to financing the restoration project, the church is hoping primarily for private donations, as the maintenance budget of 50 million euros provided by the French state is not enough to pay for the necessary work. The “Friends of Notre-Dame de Paris” foundation therefore initiated a fundraising campaign to raise the 100 million euros additionally required for getting the ailing tourist magnet back into shape.

Gothic architecture meets technology

The first construction phase is the restoration of the first flying buttress and the spire.
Two passenger and material hoists as well as a transport platform will be used to repair the old lady on the Ile de la Cité island in the Seine river. To ensure smooth and swift progress of the complex restoration work, the longstanding GEDA customer Altrad Plettac Mefran EURL sold two GEDA Multilift P12 Comfort passenger and material hoists as well as a transport platform GEDA 500 Z/ZP to the scaffolding company Europe Echafaudage SAS.

The two GEDA Multilift P12 hoists used in Paris are the Comfort version. The modular system design of the entire GEDA Multilift range provides the appropriate hoist solution for nearly every construction site application. The compact, pre-installed base unit consists of a car, enclosure, flat cable bin and drive and is delivered as one unit – perfect for HGV transport and container loading. A foundation is not required, which is a tremendous advantage in particular at Notre-Dame cathedral, as the organisers want to avoid restricting the flow of visitors through the restoration work.

The passenger and material hoist is quickly and efficiently assembled from the car. As far as the steering for the Comfort version of the GEDA Multilift P12 is concerned, users can choose between landing pre-selection in the car or landing level stop by pressing a button. With its lifting speed of 40 m/min, the GEDA Multilift P12 Comfort used in Paris transports 1,500 kg of materials or 12 passengers quickly and safely up to a height of 150 metres. The spacious A-design platform with its dimensions of 1.4 x 2.0 metres ensures safe transport of a variety of different building materials.
Despite the high load capacity, the passenger and materials hoist impresses with its low anchoring forces – and with only one mast. This is another advantage, as it puts as little strain as possible on the time-honoured façade. The four different platform versions also allow flexible use and enable the GEDA Multilift P12 to be adapted to the conditions at the construction site.
Naturally, safety is always the top priority. The GEDA Multilift P12 is therefore equipped with the usual safety components as a standard, such as limit switches, speed-dependent safety gear, safety stop and overload protection.

To the top of the spire with the transport platform

A transport platform of type GEDA 500 Z/ZP is used to reach the highest spire at a dizzying height of 69 metres.
The compact hoist is an indispensable tool for rapid assembly of scaffolding as well as for the subsequent work on the construction site. The device has two separate controls enabling it to be utilised simply as a construction hoist with a payload of up to 850 kg and as a transport platform for five passengers and loads of up to 500 kg. Due to the small footprint, the high load capacity and the varied application options, the construction hoist saves time and guarantees optimum logistics on site. A lifting speed of 24 m/min in material mode and 12 m/min in passenger mode ensures rapid construction progress.
No two construction sites are the same and that applies especially to the restoration work on such impressive monuments as Notre-Dame cathedral. Therefore, different platform versions, with different loading doors and flaps, permit optimum adaptation of the GEDA 500 Z/ZP to the conditions on site. The spacious open-top platform provides sufficient space for all types of construction material.
Furthermore, the transport platforms impress with their easy assembly and operation: the convenient assembly plank permits safe and rapid assembly of the 1.5 metre long GEDA Unimast segments, as well as their anchoring to the façade or scaffolding, directly from the platform, up to a height of 100 metres.

Gothic masterpiece still “behind bars” for years

The cathedral rose to world fame not in the least due to the successful novel “The Hunchback of Notre Dame”, published by Victor Hugo in 1831. In this story, the author already pointed out the poor condition of the cathedral, resulting in extensive restoration work actually taking place some years later. However, these remained the last repairs undertaken on the building until today, apart from façade cleaning in the 1990s.
Notre-Dame remains open to visitors while the restoration work is ongoing. The masterpiece of Gothic architecture will still remain hidden by scaffolding for several years, though, before churchgoers and visitors from all around the world can admire the cathedral in Paris in its full glory once again.