Some friends were asking about my New Zealand trip and what I had written earlier about the Christchurch earthquake. When I mentioned the “Cardboard Cathedral”, they wanted to know more. This temporary Cathedral building is on the site of Christchurch’s oldest Anglican Church, demolished after the earthquake. It replaced the original Christchurch Cathedral, still standing a few blocks away but awaiting demolition, too damaged by a whole series of earthquakes since 1864. Here is a link to more information. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cardboard_Cathedra
Just across the road however, is a permanent open space where before Tuesday, 22 February 2011 stood the 7 story Canterbury TV building. In the less than 30 seconds nothing was standing except the wall with the lift shaft and 115 people, half the casualties of the city on the earthquake. Unlike most Christchurch building which were damages, like the 2 Cathedrals, t was relatively modern (1986) but an enquiry found it’s design deficient, it’s engineer inexperienced and under supervised and it should never have been approved causing it to collapse like pack of cards and catch fire. Amongst the dead were 70 foreign ESL students
The NZ Government have acquired the site and set it aside as a permanent memorial to all the earthquake victims .
Now to the temporary Cathedral. The renowned “catastrophe architect” Shuzeru Ban offered his services pro bono to plan and produce this as the first significant building erected after the earthquake – opened on 6 Aug 2013
This A Frame Structure is made of 86 Cardboard tubes each weighing 500 kg, all supported on 8 six metre containers, which make up the walls
This inside view shows the exposed ceiling structure of tubes. The Building is designed to be a performance space as well as church.
The cardboard tube theme continues in the furnishings
From Wikipedia “It rises 21 metres (69 ft) above the altar. Materials used include 60-centimetre (24 in)-diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel. The roof is of polycarbon, with eight shipping containers forming the walls. The foundation is concrete slab. The architect wanted the cardboard tubes to be the structural elements, but local manufacturers could not produce tubes thick enough and importing the cardboard was rejected. The 96 tubes, reinforced with laminated wood beams, are “coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants” with two-inch gaps between them so that light can filter inside. Instead of a replacement rose window, the building has triangular pieces of stained glass. The building serves as a conference venue as well as a cathedral.“”
There has been a lot of controversy over this building. Partly the cost of about NZ$6,000,000 for a building with an expiry date of 35 years – the estimated time before the cardboard loses strength through water absorption. The other complication regards the question of whether to repair or replace Christchurch’s original Cathedral as the permanent city Anglican cathedral. The original dates from 1864 so has tremendous heritage value but is believed to be damaged beyond safe, economical limits to repair. This kind of question is still being asked about many buildings in the city of Christchurch, yet to be demolished in the hope that they can be restored.