Impressive restoration and renovation projects using scaffolding

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Impressive restoration and renovation projects using scaffolding

All over the world we have historic buildings and other masterpieces that need to be restored and renovated due to damages caused by the passage of time or even disasters like fires. Whether in preservation efforts or reconstruction works, utmost care is usually required on the part of scaffolders to avoid damaging the structure through the scaffolding. Here, we present three of the currently largest projects in the field of restoration and renovation of historic buildings and artworks.

Notre-Dame de Paris – reconstruction of one of France’s oldest gothic church buildings

Notre-Dame is the cathedral of the Archdiocese of Paris and is undoubtedly one of France's most recognisable landmarks. The shock was all the greater when, in April 2019, a fire broke out during renovation work on the roof structure, destroying parts of the cathedral.

Notre-Dame after the fire on 15th April 2019. The scaffold used for renovation works at the time was heavily deformed by the heat.


Just two months after the disaster, the French Parliament decided on the reconstruction of Notre-Dame. However, before the actual reconstruction work on the over 800-year-old church building could begin, the scaffolding, which was erected for the original renovation work and reached up to 300 feet high, had to be removed first. This was an extremely complex and difficult undertaking, as the 40,000 scaffolding parts had melted together during the fire, forming a 200-ton heavy, unstable net of bent and tangled metal.

Thanks to meticulous planning of the dismantling process and 6 months of work, the damaged scaffolding was completely dismantled by the end of November 2020, and the actual reconstruction work of Notre-Dame could begin.

The latest work on the roof focussed on the decorations along the ridge of the northern side aisle and the eastern half of the nave, the top row of lead roof tiles, and some components of the lightning protection system. Given the need to dismantle and reinstall the ornaments and move the roof tiles, each weighing 200 kg, an extremely robust scaffold was used to bear these loads.

Notre-Dame is scheduled to reopen by the end of 2024. The dismantling of the 100-meter-high scaffold, which was used for the reconstruction of the spire and consisted of a total of 70,000 scaffold parts weighing 600 tons, already began in early 2024.


Shuri Castle in Japan – reconstruction project of burned down World Heritage Site

Another example of extensive reconstruction work following a devastating fire is Shuri Castle in Japan. The wooden Shuri Castle is one of Japan’s 11 cultural heritage sites and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Located on the island of Okinawa, Shuri Castle was the seat of the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which lasted for approximately 450 years until Okinawa was annexed by Japan in 1879. Throughout its over 500-year history, the wooden castle has been destroyed by fire three times, each reconstruction effort taking over 10 years.


Shuri Castle in Japan – reconstruction project of burned down World Heritage Site

Another example of extensive reconstruction work following a devastating fire is Shuri Castle in Japan. The wooden Shuri Castle is one of Japan’s 11 cultural heritage sites and has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2000. Located on the island of Okinawa, Shuri Castle was the seat of the royal family of the Ryukyu Kingdom, which lasted for approximately 450 years until Okinawa was annexed by Japan in 1879. Throughout its over 500-year history, the wooden castle has been destroyed by fire three times, each reconstruction effort taking over 10 years.

Castle Shuri burned down in 2019 for the fourth time in its history. Its reconstruction is scheduled to be completed in 2026.


In November 2019, another fire broke out, completely destroying six buildings covering an area of 4,200 square meters. Reconstruction began in November 2022 and is expected to be completed by 2026. The destroyed buildings are being fully restored using wood, with system scaffolding being utilized for these works. Tube and clamp scaffolds have been erected to protect statues that survived the fire.

From the beginning of the reconstruction of Shuri castle, visitors have been able to observe the restoration works through a glass window and witness the progress from outside. Learn more about the project by clicking on the link.


St. Peter’s Baldachin – restoration of the world’s largest bronze work of art

For 400 years, the St. Peter's Baldachin has stood over the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican. Over all this time, despite regular cleaning efforts, dirt, rust, and cracks have accumulated on it. Now, the baroque bronze canopy is to be extensively restored - for the first time in 250 years.

St Peter's baldachin in the Vatican is currently undergoing its first full restoration since the 18th century.


The restoration of St. Peter's Baldachin began in February 2024 and is expected to take 10 months. By Easter, the canopy will be completely covered with metal scaffolding to allow a team of 10 to 12 restorers to begin cleaning, repairing and revitalising the artwork. The self-supporting modular scaffold will be closely built around the baldachin, so that the cleaning process can be easily done.  A challenging scaffolding project, as the canopy with its 30 metre height roughly corresponds to a 10-storey building. Learn more about the restoration of St. Peter’s Baldachin by clicking on the link.

The restoration and renovation of historic buildings is not only a challenging task for restorers, but also for the scaffolders who build the working platforms required for the work. If you would like to find out more about this topic, click here to read our blog post.

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