A cardboard cathedral for Christchurch


Almost three years after Christchurch was slammed by the first of a series of damaging earthquakes that played havoc on the city’s landscape,, the wrecking balls is still at work in the central city district. Locals have lost count of the number of buildings that have been knocked down in an effort to remove the damage and restore the city.

The result – a city that is often not even recognizable to its own residents.

pop up mall

But alongside the destruction, new and innovative buildings were created beginning in 2011 with Re:START,  pop-up mall of colorfully painted and refurbished shipping containers. Here, locals and tourists alike found a retail mix of mainly kiwi brand fashion and food in vibrant and comfortable surroundings.

christchurch cathedral

And last week, another innovative and even more unique building was opened in the central city – a cardboard Cathedral.

It’s not the first building to be made of cardboard.

Architect Shigeru Ban has been experimenting and constructing buildings for paper tubes since 1986.  From paper tube pavilions at the IE Business School of Madrid and in Moscow’s Gorky Park to a shoe shop in New York City, Ban has been creating eye-catching cardboard buildings around the world.

But Ban, a dedicated environmentalist, is best known for his work as a ‘emergency architect’, creating temporary housing in places like tsunami damaged Onagawa, Japan and Sri Lanka.

Christchurch’s Cardboard Cathedral is the latest in his disaster and humanitarian projects. Made from 98 giant cardboard tubes, coated with three layers of waterproof polyurethane, this transitional cathedral has an expected life span of 50 years.

It might be smaller and more modern than the neo-Gothic structure that it is replacing, but its opening last week was a significant step forward for earthquake damaged Christchurch.

cathedralcathedral 2


Recognizing this, the Anglican ministry looked for a way to celebrate this.  The resultant Joyfully Unmunted Festival, a series of 10 concerts featuring jazz, classical, and choral artists, was a huge success.

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