DESIGN: Shigeru Ban’s Cardboard Catherdal



Japanese architect Shigeru Ban has created a semi temporary space in earthquake rocked Christchurch, New Zealand. In 2011, the seismic event caused over $11 billion in damages, including destroying their iconic Christchurch Cathedral — designed by George Gilbert Scott and built in 1864. Ban’s new Cardboard Cathedral is just a few hundred feet from the original church’s site, but miles apart in so many ways.

The original church, as most are, was created to last until the end of days. This new $4 million cathedral boasts an extra 20 to 30 years beyond the previously estimated 20 year lifespan, when the cardboard is estimated to decompose. It’s structure uses 64 cardboard tubes that support a 78-foot-high A-frame. The base of the building is made up of eight steel shipping containers, the facade is decorated with stained glass, and the roof is covered in polycarbonate. The stained glass design made least impression on me. The triangle has been such an over used form in the past couple of years there is no excuse not to play with the patterns and colors to get to a more inspired stain glass design, even from the man devoted to exploring simple geometric shapes.


This is not the first cardboard structure designed by Shigeru Ban. In 1995 he designed homes and a church in Kobe, Japan after an earthquake that left the area in need of temporary structures; and in 2007, Ban designed and built a cardboard bridge in Nimes, France. He has spent years refining the technology behind the material, improving its fire resistance and strength.


Cardboard Homes in Kobe, Japan, Shigeru Ban



Shigeru Ban with Cardboard Bridge, Shigeru Ban

Despite some minor shortcomings in the aesthetics department, the design for the Cardboard Cathedral has further developed environmentally conscious solutions, and concepts for temporary/emergency housing and building.

You can find out more about this project and other Shigeru Ban works here.