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Christchurch’s Cardboard House of God

Christchurch’s Transitional Cathedral, designed by renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, will open its doors to the public this week. Leah Beardmore reports.

Christchurch’s Cardboard House of God


August 19th, 2013

Intended as a temporary replacement for the iconic Christchurch Cathedral that was badly damaged in a 6.3 magnitude earthquake in February 2011, the building’s completion brings to a close nearly two years of planning and construction.

stain glass transitional_cardboard_cathedral_exterior_at_night_from_latimer_square

The unique feature of the building’s design is that it is made up of 98 cardboard tubes weighing up to 120 kilograms and measuring up to 20 metres long.

christchurch cathedral Shigeru Ban

The strong A frame structure is designed to last up to 50 years, incorporates a stained glass window and can seat up to 700 people. Shigeru Ban’s ingenious cardboard design is recyclable and extremely robust.

roof detail transitional_cardboard_cathedral_entrance

Although there were fears that the cardboard may get soggy in the rain, the tubes are protected by a polycarbonate roof overhead and a solid concrete floor beneath, making the Transitional Cathedral one of the safest buildings in the city, “paper buildings cannot be destroyed by earthquakes”, Ban stresses.

exterior cardboard chapel christchurch cathedral Shigeru Ban

The Cardboard Cathedral is a symbol of hope for a renewed Christchurch, it has played a vital part in the rebirth and recovery of the city. Christchurch and Canterbury Tourism chief executive Tim Hunter believes, “it is a building which says much about Christchurch’s resilience and creativity”.

cardboard cathedral shigeru ban

Rev. Lynda Patterson, the Acting Dean of Christchurch, feels that after the Canterbury earthquakes, the Transitional Cathedral will be a place of hospitality and welcome for the city and the wider community, “We hope everyone will be inspired to visit Christchurch, and we look forward to welcoming people to the Cathedral as visitors or pilgrims,” she said.


Shigeru Ban Architects


(Images courtesy of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and Shigeru Ban Architects)


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