The Cardboard Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand opened its doors to the public for the first time on August 6. Designed by Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, the cathedral is a temporary replacement of the original Christchurch Cathedral, the city's symbol that was destroyed by a 6.3-magnitude earthquake in February 2011. Construction delays prevented the cathedral from opening on its original deadline in February.
Ban's Cardboard Cathedral is nowhere close to the original gothic revival design done by British architect George Gilbert Scott during the later half of the 19th century. The transition structure is in the middle of an ongoing debate whether the new cathedral's permanent design should be a restoration, a modern reinterpretation, or a completely new building.
The Cardboard Cathedral's triangular frame of 98 cardboard-encased LVL beams enclose a multi-functional main hall that can accommodate up to 700 people for church events. In addition to cardboard--a reportedly strong building material typically met with skepticism--a polycarbonate roof and a solid concrete floor reinforce the temporary cathedral's structure. The $5.3 million project is built to last 50 years.
Another distinctive feature of the Cardboard Cathedral is the north-facing Trinity Window above the entrance that is made of colored glass triangles featuring images from the original cathedral's rose window. According to local press, parishioners at the opening festivities had different reactions to Ban's design, although many were glad to return to the congregation.
The Cardboard Cathedral is reminiscent of Ban's past disaster relief projects wherein cardboard was a primary building material. It will serve the Christchurch congregation until a permanent design is revealed.
Photos courtesy of Shigeru Ban and architecture now.