Fate of Christ Church cathedral on table

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 28/10/2011
Christ Church Cathedral
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

THIRD WAY: Structural engineer Michael King says funds could be raised internationally to save most of Christ Church Cathedral.

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The fate of the quake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral could be decided as early as today.

Anglican cathedral leaders will today consider three engineering options for the building, according to a structural engineer involved in the project.

Two of the proposed options involve taking down large parts of the cathedral, including one option that would see the removal of everything except the eastern end of the building beyond the transept.

Miyamoto International structural engineer Michael King said the third option would involve retention of most of the cathedral and was included at his suggestion.

King was commissioned by the Christchurch City Council to review the work by cathedral engineers Holmes and present an alternative solution.

King said the cathedral should be retained as an icon of the city and an international fundraising effort could cover the cost.

The options proposed by Holmes were "a little too conservative".

"It can be repaired and strengthened. It can be done," he said.

"A building like that needs to be retained for reasons well beyond church. It is the centre of the city and the centre of life and what people see in Cathedral Square.

"I cannot imagine that building not being there. It would be a crying shame," he said.

"I know money is always something you have to consider, but there are a lot of people all over the world that can help."

King has been a structural engineer for 25 years and has worked on earthquake-damaged historic buildings in California.

His alternative solution involves retaining most of the cathedral, installing shock absorbers beneath the building and strengthening the walls with vertical steel rods.

A public relations consultant from Chambers Strategy and Communication said cathedral leaders would make no further comment.

"Once a decision is made it will be announced to the public."

A statement released by Anglican Bishop Victoria Matthews on Wednesday said the process for deciding the future of the cathedral was "challenging and complex".

"A final decision won't be made until all of the information and reports are received by the various church entities and the options and ramifications are considered," the statement said.

Former Christchurch mayor Garry Moore has joined calls for cathedral leaders to be more open about the building's future.

"A small number of people are making a big number of decisions that we all need to participate in," he said.

"We need to have this debate in public. The church is an institution and, as a member of our society, they need to be open as well. I think for buildings like the old post office and the cathedral ... discussions need to be held out in the public. They are part of the heritage fabric of this city."

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