Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Cathedral is officially open to the public, just over two years after the crippling 6.3 magnitude earthquake ravished the New Zealand town of Christchurch. 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 Christchurch’s most prized landmarks – until a more permanent structure is built.
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.”
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.