New Zealand: Foundations laid for Christchurch's cardboard cathedral

Posted Sep 24, 2012

[NZ Herald and Taonga News] The laying of concrete foundations for Christchurch’s “cardboard cathedral” started Sept. 24.

Concrete trucks have been on the Latimer Square site pouring since 4 a.m., and are expected to be there for seven hours.

The first truckload of 180 cardboard tubes for Christchurch’s transitional cathedral was delivered to the city last week.

Each tube is 6 meters long and weighs 120 kilograms. Altogether, 320 tubes will be used in the NZ$5.3 million (US$4.34 million) cathedral, which is the brainchild of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

Completion of the A-frame cathedral – originally tipped for December – has been delayed by rain and now looks unlikely before February.

More than 17 suppliers and contractors have given almost NZ$1 million (US$0.82 million) worth of time, labor and materials to its construction.

The generosity of these businesses has made a huge difference to getting the project off the ground, says the Rev. Craig Dixon, spokesman for the cathedral.

“Insurance from ChristChurch Cathedral covers NZ$4 million [US$3.28 million] of the build; however we still require a further NZ$1.3 million [US$1.07 million] in fundraising, despite the donations from suppliers and contractors.”

Naylor Love project manager Stephen Lynch says the cardboard design is his “most challenging operation” in 25 years in the construction industry.

“It’s an amazing concept and it’s amazing engineering to get that concept to work,” he told the NZ Herald.

Meanwhile, contractor Naylor Love and cathedral staff have organized a working bee to paint the cardboard tubes on Sept. 24.

The tubes need three layers of polyurethane for additional waterproofing, even though they will be covered by a polycarbonate roof.

Over the next four weeks, laminate beams from the North Island to be inserted in the tubes. Construction of the cathedral will then begin off-site and the frame erected before Christmas.