Cardboard Cathedral

Coordinates: 43°31′56.1″S 172°38′34.3″E / 43.532250°S 172.642861°E / -43.532250; 172.642861
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Cardboard Cathedral
Transitional Cathedral
The Cardboard Cathedral in 2016
43°31′56.1″S 172°38′34.3″E / 43.532250°S 172.642861°E / -43.532250; 172.642861
LocationChristchurch Central City
CountryNew Zealand
WebsiteOfficial website
DedicatedAugust 2013
Architect(s)Shigeru Ban
Construction costNZ$5m
Number of floorsone
Materialscardboard tubes, timber, steel
Bishop(s)Peter Carrell

The Cardboard Cathedral, formally called the Transitional Cathedral, in Christchurch, New Zealand, is the transitional pro-cathedral of the Anglican Diocese of Christchurch, replacing ChristChurch Cathedral, which was significantly damaged in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The Cardboard Cathedral was designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and opened in August 2013. It is located on the site of the former St John the Baptist Church on the corner of Hereford and Madras Streets in Latimer Square, several blocks from the permanent location of ChristChurch Cathedral.


The building is on a section allocated to the Anglican church in Christchurch's original 1850 survey opposite Latimer Square.[1] It was originally the site of St John the Baptist Church, the first church built in permanent materials by Anglicans in Christchurch, which was demolished after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.[2] The St John parish gave the land, and in return can use the building and will keep it once a permanent cathedral can be used.[3]


Construction details; cardboard, wood and glass
Cathedral interior

Following the earthquakes, Shigeru Ban was invited to Christchurch by Rev. Craig Dixon, the cathedral's marketing and development manager, to discuss a temporary cathedral that could also host concerts and civic events. The concept was developed during that visit.[3] Ban, who is characterised as a "disaster architect", designed the building pro bono,[4] in collaboration with Christchurch architecture firm Warren and Mahoney.[5]

Initially it was hoped to have the cathedral open in February 2012 for the first earthquake anniversary.[3][6] A-frame in style, rising 24 metres (79 ft), it incorporated 86 cardboard tubes of 500 kilograms (1,100 lb) each atop 6 metres (20 ft) long containers.[6] However, it was not until April 2012 that the site was blessed,[5] and construction began on 24 July 2012.[7] Once the decision had been made that the building would remain for St John parish, it was constructed as a permanent structure.[3]

At the same time as the site blessing, controversy raged about the Anglican diocese having applied to Christchurch City Council for an annual maintenance grant of NZ$240,000. Such a maintenance grant had for many years been given for ChristChurch Cathedral, but with the Diocese determined to demolish it there was widespread opposition to an ongoing grant, and city councillors declined the request.[5][8]

The Great Christchurch Building Trust (GCBT), co-chaired by former MPs Jim Anderton and Philip Burdon, took the Anglican Church to the High Court, to determine whether the decision to demolish ChristChurch Cathedral breached an Act of Parliament that protects church buildings, and whether an insurance payout for ChristChurch Cathedral can be used for the transitional cathedral.[9] In November 2012, the church began fund-raising to pay for the NZ$5 million project following the judge indicating it may not be legal to build a temporary cathedral using the insurance payout,[10] which the judge confirmed as illegal in April 2013.[9]

Exposed cardboard that had become wet before the building was fully enclosed was removed and replaced.[11] While construction was expected to be completed by Christmas 2012,[7] it was pushed back several times.[12] In February 2013, the NZ$5.3 million budget had increased to NZ$5.9 million because of cost escalations.[4]

Following the numerous delays the church hierarchy became secretive about the opening date and The Press reported on 2 August 2013 that the date was still unknown,[13] only for an opening ceremony to be held later that day for a small number of invited guests. The contractor handed a symbolic key made from cardboard to the bishop.[14]

The building opened to the public on 6 August 2013 with a dedication service on 15 August.[15] It was the first significant building opened as part of Christchurch's rebuild.[3]


Shigeru Ban, the church's architect

The building rises 21 metres (69 ft) above the altar. Materials used include 60-centimetre (24 in)-diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel.[16] The roof is of polycarbon,[11] with eight shipping containers forming the walls. The foundation is concrete slab. The architect wanted the cardboard tubes to be the structural elements, but local manufacturers could not produce tubes thick enough and importing the cardboard was rejected.[12] The 96 tubes, reinforced with laminated wood beams, are "coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants" with two-inch gaps between them so that light can filter inside. Instead of a replacement rose window, the building has triangular pieces of stained glass.[17] The building seats around 700 people. It serves as a conference venue as well as a cathedral.[4]

The Wizard of New Zealand, one of the strongest critics of the Diocese for wanting to demolish ChristChurch Cathedral and who had been a daily speaker in Cathedral Square, called the design "kitsch".[5]

Lonely Planet named Christchurch one of the "top 10 cities to travel to in 2013" in October 2012, and the cathedral was cited as one of the reasons that makes the city an exciting place.[18]


Period Dean Notes
2013–2014 Lynda Patterson Died 2014[19][20]
2015–2023 Lawrence Kimberley [21][22]
2023–present Ben Truman [23]


  1. ^ "Plot of Christchurch, March 1850". Wikimedia Commons. March 1850. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  2. ^ "Lost heritage Christchurch City D–H". New Zealand Historic Places Trust. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  3. ^ a b c d e Barrie, Andrew (November 2013). "Future Proof". KiaOra: 64–66.
  4. ^ a b c Dennis, Anthony (9 February 2013). "Budget shortfall for Christchurch's tubular cardboard cathedral". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  5. ^ a b c d "Site blessed for cardboard cathedral". Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  6. ^ a b Newcomb, Tim (31 August 2011). "New Zealand Cathedral to Be Rebuilt With Cardboard. Seriously". Time. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Ground work starts on 'cardboard cathedral'". 3 News. 24 July 2012. Archived from the original on 25 March 2014. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  8. ^ King, Caroline; O'Callaghan, Jody (15 July 2013). "Cardboard project frontman loses job". The Press. p. A1. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  9. ^ a b "Landmark decision: the public's views". The Press. Christchurch. 27 July 2013. p. A4.
  10. ^ Mead, Thomas (29 November 2012). "Fundraiser started for Cardboard Cathedral". 3 News. Archived from the original on 10 January 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  11. ^ a b "Rain no dampener for New Zealand cardboard cathedral by architect Shigeru Ban". 29 July 2013. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  12. ^ a b Gates, Charlie (19 July 2013). "Rain leaves cathedral tubes soggy". The Press. p. A3. Retrieved 27 July 2013.
  13. ^ Mathewson, Nicole; Stewart, Ashleigh (2 August 2013). "Cardboard cathedral work going down to the wire". The Press. Christchurch. p. A3. Retrieved 2 August 2013.
  14. ^ Stewart, Ashleigh (3 August 2013). "Emotional moment for bishop at handover of new cathedral". The Press. Christchurch. p. A3. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  15. ^ "Christchurch's Transitional 'Cardboard' Cathedral | Christchurch & Canterbury Tourism". Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 16 October 2013.
  16. ^ Mann, Charley (16 April 2012). "Work to start on cardboard cathedral". Retrieved 20 April 2012.
  17. ^ McGuigan, Cathleen (25 February 2013). "Ban's Cardboard Cathedral Rises in Christchurch". Architectural Record. Retrieved 30 July 2013.
  18. ^ Atkinson, Brett. "Christchurch revival: why New Zealand's comeback city is a must-see for 2013". Lonely Planet. Retrieved 3 August 2013.
  19. ^ Broughton, Cate (21 July 2014). "Cathedral dean Lynda Patterson dies". The Press. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  20. ^ "It's official: Dean Lynda Patterson". Anglican Taonga. 7 October 2013. Retrieved 4 October 2014.
  21. ^ "New Dean Looking to the Square". Anglican Life. 1 December 2015.
  22. ^ Gates, Charlie (3 May 2023). "Christchurch's Anglican dean quits to get a new job and afford a house before old age". The Press. Retrieved 6 May 2023.
  23. ^ Clark, Margie (17 October 2023). "New Dean takes the stage at Christ Church Cathedral". University of Otago. University of Otago. Retrieved 7 January 2024.

External links[edit]