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Cardboard cathedral for quake city

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An artist's impression of the new cardboard cathedral planned for Christchurch (AP)

An artist's impression of the new cardboard cathedral planned for Christchurch (AP)

An artist's impression of the new cardboard cathedral planned for Christchurch (AP)

The earthquake-devastated cathedral in New Zealand's Christchurch is to be replaced by one made of cardboard.

Anglican leaders believe it will deliver both a temporary solution and a statement about the city's recovery.

The 82-foot high building will be constructed with 104 tubes of cardboard. The structure will be a temporary replacement for the stone one which was ruined last year in an earthquake that killed 185 people and destroyed much of the city centre.

The Rev. Craig Dixon, a church spokesman, said the temporary cathedral would seat 700 people, cost up to 5 million New Zealand dollars (£2.6 million), and would be used for 10 years while a permanent replacement is designed and built.

Japanese architect, Shigeru Ban, has used cardboard as a material for other temporary buildings, including a "paper church" which used as a community centre after the 1995 Kobe earthquake in Japan.

Rev. Dixon said he hopes construction can begin within about six weeks and be completed by the end of the year.

"I think this building has the potential to become an icon in its own right," he said. "I think it will be greatly loved for a long time."

He said the structure would be weatherproof and fire-resistant. The plan is to use traditional materials like concrete, steel and wood to provide structural support to the A-frame-style cathedral and an attached annex. Up to two dozen shipping containers inside would provide space for offices, a kitchen and storage while the roof would be made of an opaque polycarbonate material.

Richard Gray, the chairman of a church group that has been driving the project, said the cathedral will make a statement that Christchurch is moving forward, and that people are finding solutions that are not only innovative but also environmentally friendly - after all, he points out, the cathedral would be recyclable.

Anglican leaders in Christchurch have chosen a site in Latimer Square, about 300 yards from the ruins of the current cathedral and near where 115 people died when the Canterbury Television (CTV) building collapsed. They have yet to submit their final plans to city officials, who would need to approve them before construction could begin.

PA Media