Rusting threatens the world’s most expensive building

Rusting threatens the world's most expensive building

eiffel tower

The building is an important economic factor for France.

(Photo: dpa)

Paris In France growing concern for a prime national symbol and a important economic factor. The Eiffel Tower is dilapidated, the rust is eating its way into the iron construction more and more aggressively. But a new partial coat of paint alone would cost 80 million euros.

“We saw Notre-Dame burn, will we see the Eiffel Tower collapse?” was the headline in the French magazine “Marianne”. In their report, the editors refer to documents from several technical control companies that are kept under lock and key.

What sounds alarmist at first glance has a serious background. In 1995, the 324 meter high and 7300 ton tower was last painted with lead paint, which provides maximum protection against corrosion. After the toxic substance was banned, the material began to deteriorate rapidly. According to experts, the tower is now so damaged that its future seems uncertain.

France is in a dilemma. A complete refurbishment seems difficult and extremely expensive, on the other hand, the Eiffel Tower is more than a decorative feature of the French capital that can be abandoned to decay: the colossus is a first-rate economic factor. As early as ten years ago, the Chamber of Commerce of the Milan Metropolitan Region, Monza, came to the conclusion in a large-scale study that the value of the building was 434 billion euros.

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This makes it the most expensive property in the world, ahead of the Colosseum in Rome (estimated at €91 billion). According to the Italian economists, however, it is hardly about the material value – it is about the location value, it is about the long-term profits generated, for example, by the attraction of the monument in the field of tourism. And it’s about entrance fees (up to 26.80 euros per person).

Conclusion of the study: The Eiffel Tower is becoming more dynamic the entire French economy. He is worth so much that you can pay the interest on the French government debt for years with the sum.

French national colors

The Eiffel Tower is a national symbol and landmark of the capital Paris.

(Photo: dpa)

That is of course far from the city of Paris, which has owned the property for 100 years. Nevertheless, she is increasingly asking herself whether the city’s landmark will actually last forever. For a long time, expert opinions have shown that the building has massive defects. And in fact, its builder, Gustave Eiffel, only designed the iron tower as a temporary solution. It was built over two years for the 1889 World’s Fair and was originally intended to last only 20 years. In the meantime, however, the industrial structure, which had been much reviled in the early years, had become the city’s landmark and a symbol of the nation.

Over a long period of time, the structure was repeatedly coated with lead paint to protect it from rust. However, master builder Gustave Eiffel warned early on that the monument would have to be constantly revised and everything would have to be painted for seven years. “The most important thing is to avoid rust forming,” he stressed. But that is exactly what has happened. The experts agree: the tower must be completely restored, and as quickly as possible.

But there isn’t enough time for a major overhaul because the Olympic Games are taking place in Paris in two years. An Eiffel Tower closed for construction work would be unthinkable. That is why it is now being painted for the 20th time, which at more than 80 million euros will be three times as expensive as originally planned. Above all, the removal of residues of the toxic lead paint costs money. The building should actually be painted over a large area, but there is no longer enough time for this. Instead of a third as planned, only around five percent will now be cut.

Eiffel Tower in 1889

The iron construction was not made to last forever. It should be demolished after 20 years at the latest.

(Photo: dpa)

Experts just call the new coat of paint a “cosmetic facelift”. Actually, all the old paint should have been removed and then a new coat of paint applied. The Olympics aren’t the only reason for delays in renovations.

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Around six million people visit the monument each year, making it the fourth most visited site in France after Disneyland, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles. Without the visitors, millions of revenues would be lost – unthinkable, especially after the pandemic, which caused a loss of over 50 million euros in revenues.

Various experts repeatedly examined the condition of the “iron lady”. As early as 2010 it was said that the tower had to be fundamentally revised. Four years later it was found to have cracks and rust. According to SLH Ingénierie, there were already 884 defects in 2016, 68 of which are said to be risky for the structure.

Detail of the Eiffel Tower

The building is based on classic industrial architecture.

(Photo: imago images/Imaginechina-Tuchong)

Patrick Branco Ruivo, general director of the company that operates the tower (Sete), recently tried to calm the worried public on French television. In his opinion, the iron is by no means in a critical condition.

But the Eiffel Tower remains on the list of concerns on the Paris City Council. The Conservatives republican, who are in opposition, are demanding clarification and further investigations from socialist Mayor Anne Hidalgo and the Eiffel Tower operating company, which is 99 percent owned by the city of Paris. But Patrick Branco Ruivo is convinced: “The tower remains standing.”

More: Star architect Jacques Herzog: “We have to rethink the city.”

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