Cardboard Cathedral opens in Christchurch

The new “cardboard cathedral” in Christchurch has opened, a symbol of the city's rejuvenation following the devastating earthquake of February 2011.

 The 700-seat structure was designed by Shigeru Ban, a Japanese architect responsible for temporary public buildings in areas of Japan and Haiti also damaged by earthquakes.

Its re-opening is seen as a significant step in the regeneration of a city that was badly scarred by the earthquake, which measured 6.3 on the Richter scale and claimed 185 lives.

The temporary structure uses timber, steel and a concrete base alongside cardboard tubes. It is designed to last at least 20 years, and will remain in place while a new permanent cathedral is built.

Bitter arguments were reported over a decision to pull down the original neo-gothic cathedral. Designed by the British architect George Gilbert Scott, the old cathedral was hewn from local basalt stone, and epitomised the traditional Christchurch.

However, the plan to build a temporary structure eventually won widespread approval. Originally slated to open by Christmas last year, it finally opened to the public on Tuesday August 6. It is the most dramatic new addition to Christchurch following the earthquake, but the city has many other projects in development, including a new sports centre and a shopping precinct.

 Telegraph Travel writer Adrian Bridge also noted “the appearance of a colourful range of "pop-up" shops, bars and cafés creatively housed in discarded shipping containers” on a visit to the city last year.

The opening of the new cardboard cathedral will be marked with a series of concerts and celebrations, running until August 15.

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