Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which suffered severe damage from a fire that broke out in April while under renovation, is now the center of a debate between local and national government officials in France regarding the nature of its planned reconstruction.

In the forefront of the argument is Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, who wants the structure of Notre Dame to be accurately replicated when it is rebuilt. Opposing her is Edouard Philippe, Prime Minister of France, who is interested in redesigning the over-800-year-old Gothic on more contemporary lines.

Now the French Senate has supported Hidalgo’s view of an identical renovation being done.

Accurate restoration versus modernized revision

CNN reports that the Senate of France made its decision on the course of rebuilding Notre Dame Cathedral this Monday, May 27. This was part of the legislative’s work on a Restoration Bill that would determine the expenses for rebuilding the iconic landmark and the timetable for which it will be undertaken and completed. French President Emmanuel Macron, who has spearheaded efforts to get the reconstruction of the famous Paris landmark started quickly, looks to have Notre Dame repaired within a period of five years. The Senate’s opinion of returning the cathedral to as it looked before the fire is seen as a check on PM Philippe’s alternative.

In Prime Minister Philippe’s view, the unfortunate April fire that razed most of the upper structure of Notre Dame is an opportunity to reshape the cathedral to match with the times. Already he has announced a competition for international architects that could present a new design replacing the central wood-and-leaden spire of the medieval church, which was added to the structure only in the 1800s.

To compare, original construction of the Paris cathedral took place between 1163 and 1345. Still, the spire has become an indelible feature of Notre Dame, and Parisians were devastated to see it collapse during the fire.

Rushing for 2024 Summer Olympics

President Macron’s 5-year plan for rebuilding the Notre Dame Cathedral, starting this year, was in order to complete repairs in time for the year 2024.

That is the date of the 33rd Summer Olympic Games which will be hosted by Paris. Not everyone is optimistic about the French President’s vision that the landmark will be reconstructed in that short time. In particular, professional restorer Frédéric Létoffé is looking at a decade of meticulous work, or 15 years maximum, to have a properly repaired heritage site.

The Notre Dame Restoration Bill being worked on by the Senate must first be reconciled with a version being developed by the National Assembly of France before it becomes law. One of its latest changes was the removal of governmental power to override existing regulations in heritage protection and the environment in order to expedite the restoration.