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Ban’s cardboard cathedral in Christchurch to go ahead

April 18, 2012

Shigeru Ban’s proposal for a ‘transitional’ cardboard cathedral in Christchurch is approved.

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is set to bring his paper architecture to earthquake-damaged Christchurch, with plans to build a temporary cardboard cathedral given the green light.

Ban’s cardboard cathedral will be constructed in Christchurch’s CBD to replace the city’s 19th century landmark cathedral. The original building was severely damaged by the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that shook the city on 22 February 2011, and is now slated for demolition.

The NZ$5 million (AU$4 million) cardboard cathedral will have a lifespan of at least 20 years, and will be used as a ‘transitional cathedral’ while plans are drawn up for a new, permanent cathedral.

Ban’s 700-seat cathedral will feature cardboard tubes supported by a steel and timber beam A-frame, resting on concrete foundations stabilised by shipping containers. The main space of the cathedral will have a capacity of 500, with additional space for 200 extra in an entrance zone. In addition to providing a space for worship, the building will also provide a venue for concerts, exhibitions, civic and community events.

Internationally renowned architect Shigeru Ban has designed a number of temporary cardboard structures for humanitarian aid projects. His paper church in Kobe was built in response to the 1995 earthquake in the Japanese city, and was used for ten years before being dismantled and reassembled in Taiwan. Other humanitarian projects include paper emergency shelters in Rwanda (1999) and Haiti (2010), as well as a paper concert hall constructed in L’Aquila, Italy in 2009.

The Christchurch Cathedral Chapter first approached Ban will a view to designing a temporary structure in May 2011. Ban agreed to the project on a pro bono basis, and in July 2011 presented his concept for the transitional cathedral.

The proposal for this transitional cathedral has now been given the go ahead following an agreement signed by the Cathedral Chapter, St John’s Anglican Parish and Church property Trustees. Work is expected to commence on site at the end of April, with New Zealand architects Warren and Mahoney to undertake detailed design for the project, also pro bono.

Richard Gray from the Transitional Cathedral Group in Christchurch said: “This is a very exciting next step for the project. 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.”

Ban’s cathedral will be constructed near the original cathedral, in Latimer Square on the site of St John’s parish – a church that was demolished following the February quake. The building is due for completion in December 2012.

Images courtesy Christchurch Cathedral

  • Thomas April 18th, 2012 8:07 pm

    What an interesting and amazing design. The design aesthetic reminds me very much of Post War Churches.


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