1.         Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims (France) (C 601)

Year of inscription on the World Heritage List  1991

Criteria  (i)(ii)(vi)

Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger  N/A

Previous Committee Decisions  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/601/documents/

International Assistance

Requests approved: 0
Total amount approved: USD 0
For details, see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/601/assistance/

UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds

N/A

Previous monitoring missions

1998: ICOMOS expert mission

Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports

Illustrative material  see page https://whc.unesco.org/en/list/601/

Information presented to the Bureau of the World Heritage Committee in 1998

In autumn 1997, the World Heritage Centre was informed by a private association in Reims of a building project to construct a media library in the place of certain buildings directly surrounding the square of Reims Cathedral.  Photographs and documents on the progress of this project provided by the above-mentioned association have permitted the Centre to contact the national authorities as well as ICOMOS.  Furthermore, a study of the nomination dossier revealed that no buffer zone or management plan existed.  However, the Centre learnt that a development study of the surroundings of the Cathedral was prepared in 1989 but was never approved or implemented.

On 7 April the Centre was informed that the Cultural Directorate had been made responsible for the problem of the media library and decided that the matter would be studied by the High Commission for Historic Monuments on 23 April.  The Directorate therefore requested the Centre to postpone the ICOMOS mission until after this date.

Action Required

The Bureau takes note of the report of the World Heritage Centre concerning the proposed construction of a media library on the square opposite the entrance to Reims Cathedral, as well as the action undertaken by the Centre in this regard.  The Bureau thanks the French authorities for their efforts to find a solution in conformity with the implementation of the Convention.  The Bureau also requests the authorities concerned to undertake the delimitation of a buffer zone for the properties inscribed on the World Heritage List at Reims and to elaborate a management plan for these properties and their buffer zone.  To this end, the Bureau requested the concerned authorities to present to the Centre a progress report on the work required by 15 September for submission to the World Heritage Committee at its twenty-second session.


22nd extraordinary session of the Bureau in 1998:

At its twenty-second session in June 1998, the Bureau requested the French authorities to undertake the elaboration of a management plan and to present a progress report on the media library project at the square of the Reims Cathedral, by 15 September 1998. It also requested ICOMOS to present the findings of its mission to the extraordinary session of the Bureau.

Letters informing the French authorities of the Bureau’s decision were sent on 15 July and 28 September 1998. At the time of the preparation of this document no reply has been received.

On 9 September 1998 the World Heritage Centre received information by S.O.S Reims that the demolition permit for the building at the location of the media library had been signed by the Mayor of Reims on 20 August 1998. On 2 October 1998, it was informed that the Minister of Culture of France would have given the authorisation for the construction of the media library.

Decision required:
The Bureau may wish to examine information that may be available at the time of its session and take appropriate action thereupon.

Conservation issues presented to the World Heritage Committee in 1998

The Secretariat informed the Bureau that, in response to a request made by the Bureau at its twenty-second session in June 1998, it had received a letter from the French authorities on the media library and the planning for the surroundings of the Cathedral. The authorities informed that a commission had been established to study the preservation and planning of the immediate surroundings of the Cathedral (the ‘Parvis’) and that it invited ICOMOS to participate in this commission. The Secretariat also informed that it had received information from a non-governmental organization that the demolition permit for the existing buildings on the location of the media library had been delivered and authorization for the building of the media library would have been given.

ICOMOS reported that it had sent an expert mission to Reims and that it was of the opinion that the scale of the building of the media library is too large, that its height and form will not provide a balanced townscape, that the monumental scale of the building is wholly out of context with the building’s immediate surroundings and can, therefore, not be properly integrated in it. ICOMOS also expressed the opinion that a clearly defined buffer zone around the monuments inscribed on the World Heritage List should be established and that a management plan for the monuments and their buffer zone should be prepared.

The Observer of France informed that an expert would be present at the Committee session and would be able to provide detailed information to the Committee.


The Bureau expressed concerns about the media library project, but decided to transmit the dossier to the Committee for examination so that the French expert can provide complementary information.

Analysis and Conclusions of the World Heritage Centre, ICOMOS and ICCROM

N/A

Decision Adopted: 22 BUR V.B.43

In response to the report provided by the Secretariat on the construction of a media library at the square of the Reims Cathedral, the Observer of France pointed out that French legislation for the protection of monuments provides for a protective zone of five hundred meters around classified monuments. She clarified that this zone can be considered the buffer zone and that any modification or new construction in this zone has to be object of approval by the Architect des Bâtiments de France or by the Minister of Culture himself. In the case of the media library, the building permit had been blocked awaiting consideration of this matter.

The Bureau noted that an ICOMOS mission to Reims was to be undertaken during the Bureau session and that its results would not be available during its session.

The Bureau took note of the action undertaken by the Centre and ICOMOS and of the information provided by the French Observer. The Bureau thanked the French authorities for their efforts to find a solution in conformity with the Convention. The Bureau also requested the authorities concerned to undertake the elaboration of a management plan for the site and its protective zone. To this end, the Bureau requested the concerned authorities to present to the Centre a progress report on the work required by 15 September 1998 for submission to the Bureau at its twenty-second extraordinary session. It also requested ICOMOS to present the findings of its mission at that time.

Decision Adopted: 22 COM VII.33/34

VII.33 Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint- Remi and Palace of Tau, Reims (France)

The Committee recalled that the Bureau at its twenty-second session requested the French authorities a report on the planning for the surrounding of the Cathedral and on the project for the construction of a media library (mediateque) in its vicinity. The Secretariat informed that it had received information from a nongovernmental organization that the demolition permit for the existing buildings on the location of the media library had been delivered and authorization for the building of the media library would have been given.

ICOMOS reported that it had sent an expert mission to Reims and that it was of the opinion that the scale of the building of the media library is too large, that its height and form will not provide a balanced townscape, that the monumental scale of the building is wholly out of context with the building's immediate surroundings and can, therefore, not be properly integrated in it. ICOMOS also expressed the opinion that a clearly defined buffer zone around the monuments inscribed on the World Heritage List should be established and that a management plan for the monuments and their buffer zone should be prepared.

As to the planning for the surroundings of the Cathedral (the 'Parvis'), the French Delegate confirmed information provided by the French authorities that a commission had been established to study the preservation and planning of the 'Parvis' and that it invited ICOMOS to participate in this commission. He stressed that the setting of the Cathedral had been completely destroyed during the First World War and that, since then, no coherence had been given to its urban space and to the surrounding architecture. He informed that a protection zone would be identified, as stipulated by French legislation, to replace the five hundred-meter radius around national monuments. He said that the media library was necessary to revitalise the area and that the building project had been revised and approved.

The Committee noted the information provided by ICOMOS and the French Delegate. It encouraged both parties to continue the dialogue on the planning for the surroundings of the Cathedral and to keep the Committee informed on progress made in this respect.