New Zealand Cathedral to Be Rebuilt With Cardboard. Seriously.

  • Share
  • Read Later
Courtesy of Shigeru Ban Architects

After devastation comes imagination. As an iconic piece symbolizing the destruction in Christchurch, New Zealand, following a February 2011 earthquake, the Christchurch Cathedral will make a crackling comeback in time for the earthquake’s one-year anniversary. And the comeback comes packed in cardboard.

The 6.3-magnitude quake completely eliminated the Anglican church’s bell tower and badly damaged a key symbol of the city, originally built in 1864. To help residents start the rebuilding process, Tokyo-based architect Shigeru Ban has—pro bono, no less—designed a temporary cathedral to hold 700 people out of one of his feature mediums: cardboard.

Using 86 paper tubes each weighing over 1,100 pounds, placed on a foundation of 20-foot shipping containers, the new cathedral will open on Feb. 22, 2012, one year after the earthquake. The A-framed structure will top out at 78 feet, about the same height as the original Christchurch bell tower. A local artist will even add a stained-glass window.

(PHOTOS: Deadly Earthquake Strikes Christchurch)

This isn’t Ban’s first ride on the cardboard merry-go-round. He has used it plenty before—most notably for a church in Kobe, Japan, after a 1995 earthquake, and again now in Japan’s Sendai to help out tsunami victims—because it can be recycled and actually has amazing strength, all while being treated to become weatherproof and fireproof.

Ban tells the Telegraph that the structure, which will find a home somewhere in the center of the city, will take about three months to construct at a cost of about $2.8 million. When finished, the 700-seat structure will boast space for events and concerts.

Ban’s design could last as much as a decade — and it may be needed for a while, as Christchurch officials haven’t decided on how to handle restoring the original cathedral. We doubt cardboard is the long-term solution.

PHOTOS: Top 10 Green Buildings

Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

0 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest