A Cardboard Cathedral for Christchurch
Cardboard isn’t a material usually associated with cutting-edge building design, but Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is changing that. His work is known worldwide for its innovation and beauty.
This Transitional Cathedral is the first substantial rebuild in the wake of the big quake and a very welcome project at a time when hundreds of other buildings in Christchurch are being removed. It’s a symbol of rebuild hope being erected by Naylor Love.
The design of the Transitional Cathedral is deceptively simple. It’s an A-frame structure based on a concrete foundation on which a group of us admirers are standing.
You would imagine that cardboard pillars might lack the requisite strength. However, at the assembly site we noticed that the cardboard tubes were actually containers or outside shells covering very substantial laminated timber pillars. We concluded that the cardboard was of mainly esthetic importance.
The Cathedral roofline will rise and the building will narrow towards the sanctuary, creating an impressive interior wave of cardboard columns as they bow towards the altar. This means that columns are of diminishing length, each individually manufactured. I was reminded of the unique design of the Sydney Opera House that helped ensure that project went significantly over budget and was completed much later than originally envisaged.
Talking with a humorous contractor about the risk caused by this unique construction, he suggested that the greatest risk to this investment might be that God does not exist.