Cardboard Cathedral Replaces Church Destroyed by Earthquake

A cathedral destroyed by a 2011 earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand has been replaced by a temporary cardboard construction by famed architect Shigeru Ban. While it may be made of cardboard, like many of Ban’s unusual structures, it has an unexpectedly long life span of up to fifty years.

The cardboard church will serve the community until a new cathedral can be constructed. Triangular in shape, it’s made up of 98 equally-sized cardboard tubes surrounding a geometric pattern of colored glass windows that face the street. The main hall can accommodate up to 700 people for events and concerts. Eight steel shipping containers below the cardboard structure house chapels and storage areas.

Wondering about the durability of cardboard, and how it could possibly last fifty years? Shigeru Ban has dedicated his career to advocating for quick and efficient temporary architecture made of sustainable materials, and his previous works include a bridge made of cardboard tubes as well as other churches (like this one in Kobe, Japan.) The key is in the engineering of the structures, distributing the weight in such a way that the tubes can support more than you’d think.

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