Newly Released Photos of Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral in New Zealand

© Bridgit Anderson

Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral is officially open to the public, just over two years after the crippling 6.3 magnitude earthquake ravished the town of . With an expected lifespan of 50 years, the temporary cathedral will serve as a replacement for the city’s iconic 1864 Anglican cathedral – one of ’s most prized landmarks – until a more permanent structure is built. 

© Bridgit Anderson
© Bridgit Anderson

The Cardboard Cathedral, constructed as simple A-frame structure from 98 equally sized cardboard tubes and 8 steel shipping containers, is said to be one of the safest, earthquake-proof buildings in Christchurch. Aside from the building’s structural integrity, each paper tube is coated waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants while protected by a semi-transparent, polycarbonate roof.

Shigeru Ban, who has been developing the recycled tubes as an emergency relief building material since 1986, declared that “the strength of the building has nothing to do with the strength of the material.” He stated, “Even concrete buildings can be destroyed by earthquakes very easily, but paper buildings cannot.”

© Bridgit Anderson

August 11th marked the cathedral’s first Sunday service, providing up to 700 residents with a beautifully lit area of worship. Upon arrival, visitors were welcomed by a colorful mosaic of triangular glass etched with images from the original cathedral’s facade.

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Newly Released Photos of Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral in New Zealand" 24 Aug 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed 22 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I rember the apanese Pavillion at the Hannover Expo some years ago, it was constructed entirely of paper. I loved it, it was a wonderful innovation. The Japanese are the real masters of this kind of entity.

  2. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I remember the Japanese Pavillion at the Hannover Expo some years ago made entirely of paper and cardboard tubes. I loved this building for its graceful purity, just beautiful. The cathedral above has many lessons for us all.

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    The article makes no mention of the fact that the cardboard in this case is completely aesthetic, with timber LVL beams inside each tube.

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      That is half the story. Structural cardboard was the intention. No-one in Christchurch was able to produce tunes of the required strength. So the decision was made to run structural timber inside the tubes as (my interepretation here) Shigiru felt it was more important that Christchurch suppliers be used than fulfilling some lofty notion of purity.

  4. Thumb up Thumb down -7

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