Interim cathedral to be built in Christchurch, New Zealand

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An interim Anglican cathedral, made of timber, steel and cardboard, is scheduled to be built in Christchurch, New Zealand, as planning continues on a permanent replacement for the stone building destroyed in a February 2011 earthquake, according to Anglican Taonga, the news service for the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

Called the "transitional cathedral," the building is projected to cost NZ$4.5 million (US$3.69 million) and has been designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. It will be built in the city's Latimer Square, former site of St. John's Church and a few blocks from the cathedral's former site. St. John's was also demolished after the quake.

"I am delighted we have reached this step and I acknowledge the wonderful collaboration between the congregations of the cathedral and St. John's that has made a transitional cathedral possible in the inner city," said Christchurch bishop Victoria Matthews.

Matthews and Richard Gray, who represented the transitional cathedral planning group, told a media briefing that the building will be a "a symbol of hope for the future of this city" and said it is to be completed by Christmas. It will be used for worship and community events until the permanent cathedral is built and will then become the worship center for St John's.

With 400 parishioners, St John's is one of the larger parishes in the diocese and now worships at a high school and St. Saviour's church in Sydenham, Anglican Taonga reported.

"The cathedral is confident it will attract interest nationally and internationally drawing additional visitors to the city," Gray said. With seating for 700, the building will also provide a venue for concerts, exhibitions, civic and community events. Linked containers will sit alongside the cathedral and include a cafe and shop, meeting rooms, amenities and offices.

"The bulk of the money is in hand but there will be further fundraising to meet the costs of building the temporary structure," Gray said. The transitional cathedral will be made of cardboard tubes, timber beams, structural steel and a concrete pad and is intended to last well over 20 years.

It is the largest "emergency structure" designed by Ban. He and associate architect Yoshie Narimatsu are not charging for their services, the news service reported.