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Solid idea: Cardboard cathedral to be built in New Zealand to replace Christchurch’s quake-damaged church

When a powerful 6.3-magnitude quake struck Christchurch in New Zealand in February last year, its force caused part of the city’s famous cathedral to tumble to the ground.

Rebuilding the 131-year-old Anglican cathedral was recently judged to be too costly and dangerous, resulting in the controversial decision to at some point demolish its remains.

While local church-goers wait for a new cathedral to be built, the authorities have come up with the novel idea of building a 700-seat transitional cathedral out of cardboard. Designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, the unique paper and cardboard structure will rest on an A-frame of timber beams and structural steel.

A location for the cathedral was announced yesterday on the Christchurch Cathedral website.

“This is a very exciting next step for the project,” the Transitional Cathedral Group’s Richard Gray said. “The Transitional Cathedral is a symbol of hope for the future of this city as well as being sustainable and affordable. The Cathedral is confident it will attract interest nationally and internationally drawing additional visitors to the city.”

Work on the temporary cathedral — which will also be used for concerts, exhibitions and community events — will start within the next couple of months, with building work on the $5.3 million structure expected to be complete by the end of the year. It’s thought the new cardboard cathedral will be used for up to 10 years while a more permanent structure is being constructed.

Ban, an internationally-acclaimed award-winning architect, is known for his work with recycled cardboard tubes. Following the devastating quake in the Japanese city of Kobe in 1995, he designed and built another cardboard church for use by local people. He has also designed cardboard-based temporary housing for use in disaster-affected areas around the world. Much of his work is pulped and recycled when no longer needed.

And in case you’re wondering — yes, Ban’s cardboard structures are all weatherproof, so worshippers in Christchurch needn’t worry about being covered in a mushy mess should the heavens suddenly open during a service.

[Source: Christchurch Cathedral, Shigeru Ban, Guardian]

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