The Anglican Cathedral in Christchurch, New Zealand was partially destroyed by a earthquake that hit the city in 2011.
Now it has been completely rebuilt, but you would not expect to discover that the building material is… cardboard! Yes, the repair work has been done using recyclable materials.
For this, the city has sought the services of Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, known for his achievements from recycled materials.
The reconstituted church has all the attributes of the original one. The cathedral is triangular shaped and can accommodate up to 700 worshipers. It is made from cardboard tubes which were sealed up with flame retardant polyurethane, thus protecting the building from water and fire.
Christchurch is the capital of the region of Canterbury and the second most populated city in New Zealand: its infrastructure has taken a long time to rebuild and people continued to live amongst the rubble whilst undergoing reconstruction. In this scenario, Shigeru Ban took on the reconstruction as an emergency project. This project is arguably the most ambitious of his career.
Accustomed to working with cheap materials, Shigeru Ban has built up a reputation for being an internationally known “green” architect. He has constructed several buildings in disaster areas such as Rwanda or his native country, Japan. All of them are made from unusual and inexpensive materials.
The architect first began making constructions using paper in 1986, when he started developing structures with cardboard tubes after recognizing the strength of cardboard tubes. The debut of his first architectural project was in 1989 in the city of Nagoya (Japan).
Shigeru Ban later popularized this technology in 1995 with the construction of a church in the city of Kobe, which had been devastated by an earthquake. He finished this project in five weeks, very fast by any standard.
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