George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight | Recovering After Disaster: Christchurch, New Zealand’s Cardboard Cathedral
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Recovering After Disaster: Christchurch, New Zealand’s Cardboard Cathedral
April 16, 2012
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In February, 2011, Christchurch New Zealand was struck by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake that damaged or destroyed buildings and caused the deaths of 185 people. That quake was followed by another in June, and a series in December. Today, the city is still working on recovery, and one major landmark that is missing from the landscape is the Christchurch Cathedral. But today the Anglican church announced a temporary solution that represents their efforts to rebuild: they will raise an 82-foot high cathedral made out of cardboard tubes.

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The temporary structure, which will be located about 300 metres from the ruins of the current cathedral, will seat 700 people, and cost up to 5 million New Zealand dollars ($4.1 million Canadian) to build. It may be used for as long as a decade while a permanent replacement for the original cathedral comes together. The architect is Japan's Shigeru Ban, who also designed a "paper church" which functioned as a community centre after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.

Reverend Craig Dixon, a church spokesman, has high hopes for the cardboard church: "I think this building has the potential to become an icon in its own right. I think it will be greatly loved for a long time", he said. The building won't be made solely of cardboard, of course - traditional building materials like steel, concrete and wood will provide structural support and up to two dozen shipping containers inside the cathedral will provide space for offices, a kitchen, and storage. But the most visible feature will be the 104 tubes of cardboard which make up the frame of the building.

The final plans for the church have not been submitted yet, but Richard Gray, the chairman of a church group that has been driving the project, says he's confident the church has "done its due diligence" and the project will be approved. Last year's earthquakes are the costliest in New Zealand's history. Repairs to Christchurch are expected to cost between 20 and 30 billion New Zealand dollars.

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