Christchurch Gets £2 Million Cardboard Cathedral

17/04/2012 10:35 | Updated 17 June 2012

Christchurch, the earthquake-ravaged New Zealand city, will finally have its cathedral rebuilt. But it's no ordinary nave and steeple construction. Christchurch will instead receive a cardboard cathedral that will last 20 years.

The remarkable temporary structure made of cardboard will replace the once magnificent building. Cardboard tubes will be complemented by timber beams, concrete and steel and concrete, in a high tech structure that will give Christchurch residents a place to worship once more.

The church, vicarage and hall of St John's parish was demolished after the February 22 earthquake which claimed the lives of 185 people.

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban designed the holy space, and has been working on the building free of charge since May 2011. He is famous for his sinous, latticed construction and emergency paper buildings.

Ban was responsible for Issey Miyake's fashion design studio, paper emergency accommodation for UNHCR camps and a paper arch at MOMA.

The architect also built a temporary paper church for the Japanese city of Kobe, after a massive earthquake devastated the city in 1995.

"It allows the city to see hope rise. It allows the cathedral community to take some time over what they want to do about the building in [Cathedral] Square," he said.

Ban said that cardboard was a natural choice, as it is easily available following a natural disaster.

"Even concrete buildings can be destroyed by earthquakes very easily. But paper buildings cannot be destroyed by earthquakes. It's also consistently low-cost. Normally after disasters the price of building materials goes higher, but since this is not a traditional building material, it's very easy to get," he says.

The cathedral will seat 700 people and will cost NZ$4 million. A completion date has not yet been announced.

Christchurch cathedral redevelopment