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NZ cathedral: work starts

by
20 July 2012

by a staff reporter

WORK on a $5-million cardboard cathedral for the earthquake-damaged city of Christchurch, in New Zealand, will start this week, despite a refusal by the city council to part-fund it.

The temporary cathedral, to be built from cardboard, will replace the historic building that was seriously damaged in an earthquake last year, and in successive smaller quakes. The original building is currently being brought down to a safe height by demolition experts ( News, 9 March).

The Chapter of Christchurch Cathedral asked the city council for $240,000 to help to fund visitor and community support to the "transitional" cathedral, which will seat up to 700. But councillors said that better uses could be made of taxpayers' money.

The former Dean of the cathedral, the Very Revd Peter Beck, is now a city councillor. He did not take part in the vote because of his links to the cathedral. He said, however, that he was disappointed by the decision.

He said that the transitional-cathedral project was an exciting one that was drawing international attention.

The cathedral has been designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, using cardboard tubes as well as timber beams, structural steel, and a concrete pad. It is intended to last more than 20 years. It is the largest "emergency structure" to be designed by Mr Ban, who has contributed his time free of charge, and made a gift of the building's design to the cathedral, diocese, and city.

The Acting Dean, the Ven. Lynda Patterson, said: "We are disappointed the grant was declined. But we hope once the transitional cathedral is built and serving the community, the civic benefits might be more visibly understood."

She continued: "This decision strikes at the heart of cathedral ministry in the city. Our funding shortfall threatens many activities which are integral to what we do. The veggie co-op, which feeds over 800 families each week, civic services like the Antarctic service, ANZAC Day citizens' service, and the ongoing life of our internationally acclaimed choir are all potentially under threat.

"It casts doubt on whether we can remain open seven days a week, 365 days a year. In the mean time, we are carrying on trying to do work which benefits the city."

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