Shigeru Ban’s temporary cardboard cathedral finally got the green light to be erected in Christchurch, New Zealand. Now called the “Transitional Cathedral”, the building will replace a 19th century church that was heavily damaged in the 2011 earthquake – until funds for a permanent building are raised. The temporary building will hold 700 parishioners, it can be constructed with a fraction of the time and cost it takes to create a traditional building, and it can be re-erected for a different purpose in the future.

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Ban has utilized cardboard to create temporary, quick-to-assemble shelters after both the 2011Japan earthquake and the New Zealand quake. The Transitional Church will be supported by cardboard tubes pitched to create a cathedral ceiling that rises 80 feet. The material is both strong and lightweight, and can be assembled through relatively quick construction processes. The construction will also be a modest $3.8 million and will be completed before the end of 2012.

Ban sees the building having a 20 year life span, so the community can deconstruct it in a few years and reassemble it for a community center or other purposes. The design also pushes the envelope (there a pun in here somewhere) on how large, low-cost and temporary buildings made from paper can fit into community needs with an esthetic intention. Ban’s cardboard church was designed only a couple of months after the earthquake, and since it can be locally sourced and easily removed it offers a vital new place for a community that is only now getting back on its feet.

+ Shigeru Ban Architects