Cardboard cathedral to be built in quake hit New Zealand city

WELLINGTON Tue Apr 17, 2012 1:15am IST

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WELLINGTON (Reuters) - New Zealand's Anglican church will build a temporary cathedral made of cardboard in earthquake-devastated Christchurch as it works towards a permanent replacement for its 131-year old landmark destroyed last year.

The Victorian-era, Gothic-style cathedral, which dominated the city's central square, was badly damaged in the February 2011 quake, and is being demolished.

The replacement, an A-frame structure designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, will be built on the site of another historic church, which was also destroyed in the 6.3 magnitude quake.

"The Transitional Cathedral is a symbol of hope for the future of this city as well as being sustainable and affordable," spokesman Richard Gray said.

The temporary cathedral will be made of cardboard tubes, timber beams, structural steel and a concrete pad, and is intended to last more than 20 years. It is expected to be finished in time for Christmas services in December.

Ban is known for his reinforced paper and cardboard structures and designed a similar "paper church" after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.

Christchurch's landmark cathedral was a favorite meeting place and tourist attraction, but any chance of saving it was ended by several strong aftershocks that caused more damage.

New Zealand faces a NZ$20 billion ($16.5 billion) bill to rebuild its second largest city, the centre of which remains off limits more than a year after the quake. Whole blocks have been reduced to bare land.

However, thousands of tremors, some with magnitudes of up to 6, have delayed any concerted rebuilding.

(Reporting by Gyles Beckford; Editing by Paul Tait and Jonathan Thatcher)

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