How temporary ‘cardboard cathedral’ rose from the ruins to become most recognised building in Christchurch

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How temporary 'cardboard cathedral' rose from the ruins to become most recognised building in Christchurch
‘Something so beautiful to come from the ruins’: Christchurch’s new Transitional Cathedral, known as the ‘cardboard cathedral’

Carolina Izzo runs her fingers over the edges of a coffee table. It is made from wood recycled out of the broken homes of Christchurch’s earthquake. “You can feel this has history,” the conservator says. “You can feel that time has imprinted on it. You cannot manufacture that.”

A short walk away sits the Christ Church Cathedral where time has imprinted a different feel. The front of the structure, completed 110 years ago, hangs open and loose like a broken jawed boxer. Steel support structures, raised in the aftermath of the 2011 earthquake, seem to support nothing. The building, once the epicentre of the city and its namesake, has sat unused and embroiled in legal battles. It is cordoned off, much of it hidden by large containers stacked up to protect the public in case of another shake.

But still it is a tourist attraction and still, for a different reason, likely Christchurch’s most photographed building. Once it housed concerts and meetings and, of course, religious ceremonies. Now it houses pigeons. “It was part of the city. It is even the symbol of the city council,” Izzo says. “What is Christchurch without its church?”[]