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New Cathedral Made of Cardboard Tubing

Friday, January 3, 2014

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Japanese architect Shigeru Ban surely thinks outside of the box when it comes to building materials. That is, unless the box is made of cardboard.

Case in point: the architect's new $5.9 million cardboard cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand.

cardboard cathedral
© Bridgit Anderson /

The cardboard cathedral, which holds up to 700 people, also has an event space and concert area.

Indeed, he is the only architect in the world making buildings out of paper and cardboard tubing, the architect recently said during a TEDx Talk in Tokyo.

The cathedral, described as “temporary,” opened in August 2013 and replaced a 19th-century Gothic Revival stone cathedral that was heavily damaged in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake. The stone structure was a symbol of the city. Ban designed the replacement, the first built after the devastating quake, for free.

According to project details cited in reports, the cathedral is composed of 96 cardboard tubes, timber and steel. The roof is polycarbon and secured with shipping containers. The tubes are reinforced with laminated wood beams and coated with waterproof polyurethane and flame retardants, reports said.

Cathedral damage

The temporary church replaced a 19th-century Gothic Revival stone cathedral that was heavily damaged in the February 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

Architecture by its nature lends itself to criticism, and this high-profile worship space is no different. Some have referred to the design as “kitsch.”

Ban, however, finds support among advocates of innovation and creative thought in design. He has been working with inexpensive, low-impact materials since 1986.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architects; Architecture; Building materials; Coatings technology; Color + Design; Design

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