Wiki summaries the structure and its reception thus:
The cathedral rises 70 feet (21 m) above the altar. Materials used in its construction include 2 feet (0.61 m) diameter cardboard tubes, timber and steel. The roof is of polycarbon, and is held up by eight shipping containers which form the walls. The foundation is concrete slab. The architect initially wanted the cardboard tubes to be the structural elements, but local manufacturers could not produce tubes thick enough, and importing the cardboard was rejected. The 96 tubes, reinforced with laminated wood beams, are “coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants” leaving two-inch gaps between each so that light can filter into the cathedral. Instead of a replacement rose window, the building contains triangular pieces of stained glass. In addition to serving as a cathedral, the building serves as a conference venue.
The Wizard of New Zealand, one of the strongest critics of the Anglican diocese for wanting to demolish ChristChurch Cathedral and who was previously a daily speaker in Cathedral Square, called the design of the Cardboard Cathedral “kitsch“.
Lonely Planet named Christchurch one of the “top 10 cities to travel to in 2013” in October 2012, and the construction of the Cardboard Cathedral was cited as one of the reasons that makes the city an exciting place.
However, I found its placement unfortunate. Here is the description of the site from the building’s wiki page:
The Cardboard Cathedral is located on the corner of Madras and Hereford Streets on a section allocated to the Anglican church in Christchurch‘s original 1850 survey opposite Latimer Square. It was originally the site of St John the Baptist Church, the first church built in permanent materials by Anglicans in Christchurch, until it was demolished after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The St John parish gave the land for the site, and in return, can use the Cardboard Cathedral for its own purposes, and will keep the building once the permanent pro-cathedral can be used.
Or rather I should say that the placement is entirely understandable, but the condition of the streets that both this new building and the lovely Latimer Square are on is appalling. Madras is the north-bound half of a oneway couplet that really ought to be two wayed and calmed. It is little other than a speedway; complete with NZTA motorway signage designed to read at 100kph. The fact that this route does a dogsleg around Latimer Square seems to be a plus for the boyracers who treat it as a race track. It is still a residental street. Frankly I’m amazed I survived crossing back and forth between the Square and the cathedral while shooting it.
Now is a great opportunity to fix this terrible hangover from the bad days of traffic engineering as it is hard to see how much quality of place can develop around this motorway condition. Certainly does precious little for contemplation, either in the church or the Square.
At the rear of the Cathedral is Peter Majendie’s installation Reflection of Loss of Lives, Livelihoods and Living in Neighbourhood can be seen. This comprises of 185 found chairs painted white, one for each of the people that were killed in the earthquake. Effective and affecting.
Photographs by Patrick Reynolds