Cathedral made of cardboard opens in earthquake-hit Christchurch


Christchurch’s cardboard cathedral officially opened Thursday, replacing the neo-Gothic structure destroyed in the 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people in New Zealand’s second-largest city.

Completion of the innovative structure, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, marks a major milestone in the city’s recovery from the devastating 6.3-magnitude quake that levelled much of its central area, Acting Dean Lynda Patterson said.

“The old cathedral symbolized the city in many ways and we think this cathedral is a symbol that Christchurch is regrouping and rebuilding,” she said. “The community has a cathedral again. It’s a place where people can come for quiet contemplation in the city center and somewhere we can hold concerts and art exhibitions.”

Built from cardboard tubes 600 mm in diameter and coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants, the cathedral is a simple A-frame structure that can hold 700 people. Despite the unusual building material, it has a design life of 50 years, with the Anglican Church planning to use it as a cathedral for at least a decade while a permanent replacement is built for the late 19th-century structure lost in the quake.

It has a concrete base, with the cardboard tubes forming two sides of the A-frame and containers helping brace the walls. One end of the cathedral will be filled with stained glass and a polycarbon roof will help protect it from the elements.