shigeru ban: christchurch NZ cardboard cathedral under construction
shigeru ban: christchurch NZ cardboard cathedral under construction shigeru ban: christchurch NZ cardboard cathedral under construction
dec 31, 2012

shigeru ban: christchurch NZ cardboard cathedral under construction

a scale model of the new cardboard christchurch cathedralimage courtesy AFP photo / marty melville




japanese architect shigeru ban designed a transitional cathedral in earthquake-devastated christchurch. the city’s gothic revival cathedral made from local basalt was irreparably damaged in the 6.3-magnitude earthquake that claimed 185 lives on february 22 last year. urgently needing a temporary replacement, the anglican church commissioned ban — who donated his services gratis — to draw up plans for a construction, to be built from 600-millimeter (24-inch) diameter cardboard tubes, coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants. it will be a simple A-frame structure that can hold 700 people.

construction on its wayimage courtesy AFP photo

a scale model of the new cardboard christchurch cathedralimage courtesy AFP photo / marty melville



‘people are not killed by earthquakes, they’re killed by collapsing buildings,’ shigeru ban says. ‘that’s the responsibility of architects but the architects are not there when people need some temporary structure because we’re too busy working for (the) privileged. even a temporary structure can become a home.’

(r) the ruins of the existing cathedral and (l) a scale model of the new cardboard christchurch cathedralimage courtesy AFP photo / marty melville

from designboom’s 2011 article — the early model shows the interiors of the ‘cardboard cathedral’ in christchurch images courtesy of shigeru ban architects




church authorities envisage it being used as a cathedral for only 10 years, until a permanent replacement is built, although ban said the enthusiastic response in NZ to his innovative plans could change that. the structure has a concrete base, with the cardboard tubes forming two sides of the A-frame and containers helping brace the walls. one end of the cathedral will be filled with stained glass and a polycarbonate roof will help protect it from the elements, giving a lifespan estimated at up to 50 years. it will be built on latimer square, close to the city’s ruined cathedral.

previous version of the ‘cardboard cathedral’, scale model images courtesy of shigeru ban architects




due to be completed in april next year — 132 years after the consecration of the original stone version — the NZ cathedral is the largest cardboard structure ban has designed. the church, insurance and public donations are paying for the NZ$5 million project (USD 4.2 million) for which local builders have offered discount prices.

  • Good to see some innovation in New Zealand, and the Christchurch rebuild getting under way

    Allan says:
  • Brilliant!

    Mike Jackson says:
  • It looks lovely but, $4.2 million dollars?

    Lou says:
  • What is the point of spending 4.2 Million USD for a ten year structure? Why not build it with materials that will last. it aint a small amount of money being spent in the first place, pretty as it is!

    Shabnam says:
  • Hello it is very interesting your project. I am an Industrial designer living now in christchurch. I would like to see the project in person .


    [email protected]


    sebastian says:

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