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Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Church

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

Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Church


August 21st, 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.

Christchurch Shigeru Ban

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 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.

Christchurch Shigeru Ban

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.

Christchurch Shigeru Ban

The Transitional 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”.

Christchurch 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 says.

Shigeru Ban Architects

Images courtesy of Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism and Shigeru Ban Architects

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