Construction work is set to begin shortly on the transitional ‘Cardboard’ Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand, after the first batch of cardboard tubes was handed over to the cathedral’s building contractor, Naylor Love.
Each weighing 120 kilograms and measuring six metres in length, the tubes, which have laminated wood inserted within for strength, will play a significant role in the structure of the building – a temporary cathedral designed by Japanese architect Shigery Ban to be located several blocks from the former Christchurch Cathedral, which was severely damaged during the Christchurch earthquake in February, 2011.
The project will include 320 tubes, of which 180 arrived last Tuesday.
In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the cardboard design was chosen for its simplicity in construction; the building process is scheduled to take just three months, and the facility is expected to be ready by the second anniversary of the earthquakes in February of next year.
Of course, the project has had its share of problems. It is three months behind schedule and, at a cost of $NZ5.3 million (against the $4 million covered by insurance from the Christchurch cathedral), it is $1.3 million short in cash.
Still, the development has galvanised community spirit. Almost $1 billion worth of time, labour and materials beyond the $5.3 billion cost estimate has been donated by more than 17 suppliers and contractors.
Furthermore, interest from the community prompted the cathedral and its builder to organise a public working bee to paint the tubes, each of which took four to five hours on Wednesday to complete. Though a polycarbonate roof will protect the tubes from exposure to the elements, Naylor Love project manager Stephen Lynch says three layers of polyurethane will offer additional protection and must be applied before the project can move to the next stage.
Following the painting, which will take place over the next four weeks, 100 laminated veneer lumber tubes will be delivered and inserted into the cardboard tubes, after which construction is set to begin.
The new building, which will seat around 700 people, will serve as a temporary place of worship until sufficient funds are acquired to build a permanent replacement.