Sending shockwaves through the dusty world of heritage restoration, the prestigious contract to rebuild Notre Dame Cathedral has been awarded to a Worcester-based building firm specialising in repulsive breeze-block concrete monstrosities.
Notre Dame is a medieval masterpiece renowned across the world as one of the finest existing, if currently a bit burnt-y, examples of French Gothic architecture.
Carbuncle Construction is an unregulated outfit renowned across the Midlands for crumbling 1960s high-rises, moribund municipal skate-parks, and desolate inner-city shopping precincts.
They have also been described as “shoddy”, “lacking even a passing interest in the concept of a spirit level”, and “currently under investigation for serious contraventions of health and safety”.
The integrated roof-top car park of their first project, Worcester’s Trinity House Co-op, was built without an access ramp, achieving a level of futility that town planners termed “disappointing”, and Grand Designs’ Kevin McCloud: “boldly quixotic”.
Other triumphs include Kidderminster’s Crown House, whose porous walls started sinking as soon as the scaffolding was removed, and Birmingham’s original 1964 Bull Ring, movingly described as “a million-ton pebble-dashed suicide note”.
“Winning did come as a bit of a surprise,” admits company director Sam Jenson. “Maybe they recognised, just as Notre Dame is a unique architectural treasure illuminating the heart of Paris, we achieved much the same with Wolverhampton polytechnic.
“Truth be told, we only entered thanks to a drunken bet the night the pubs reopened. We just had time to submit our existing plans for Dudley’s combined roller rink and meat-packing plant, with a couple of twiddly bits bunged on.”
And the magnificent gargoyle-adorned spire, which President Macron has specified is to be rebuilt to the exact nineteenth-century gothic-revival design?
Mr Jenson shrugged confidently; “Couple of Portacabins balanced on end with the odd Garfield soft toy clutching a baguette wedged here and there, and Philippe’s your uncle.”