Cardboard cathedral 'will go ahead'

CHARLIE GATES
Last updated 05:00 10/12/2011
Work continues on dismantling the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament piece by piece.
JOHN KIRK-ANDERSON/Fairfax NZ

ON HIGH: Work continues on dismantling the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament piece by piece.

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A planned temporary cardboard cathedral to replace Christ Church Cathedral will go ahead despite uncertainty over its location, Christchurch's Anglican community says.

The proposal for a temporary cathedral made of cardboard was unveiled in August but has run into difficulties with the Christchurch City Council.

The cathedral, designed by world-renowned Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, would cost $4 million, take three months to build, and could seat 700 people.

In a report discussed by city councillors on Thursday, council staff had recommended that no public money be provided for the temporary cathedral.

The report said the council should not allow the cathedral to be placed in Hagley Park, citing the loss of public space and the effect it would have on sporting matches and important events.

Councillors decided to hold off on a decision until it could have an "urgent meeting" with diocesan authorities.

Transitional cathedral group convener Richard Gray said he did not know whether a meeting had been scheduled.

He said the diocese was now looking for a "less supposedly controversial" location because of the council's report.

"It would have been lovely to have it in Hagley Park, but it's clearly not plain sailing and we've got time working against us."

Gray said the diocese was confident the cathedral would go ahead but could not wait for the council to decide if it could use Hagley Park.

"The plans are all done ... We've got to move on for the good of the cathedral community and the province as a whole," he said.

CATHEDRAL OF THE BLESSED SACRAMENT

It would cost more than $100 million to fully restore the earthquake-damaged Catholic cathedral in Christchurch.

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament leaders are considering whether to restore the building for more than $100m or build a new cathedral for about $40m.

Engineering reports on how to fix the damage are expected next week, but a decision will not be made until early next year.

Cathedral management board chairman Lance Ryan said he was in two minds on the future of the building.

"I am still 50-50. Half of me wants to restore it to its former glory and half wants to build a new one," he said.

"I am trying to get a decision from the engineers by Christmas.

"We will take a breather for a couple of months because it will be a huge decision."

Ryan said they were still finding damage.

"We can't make any decision until we have the engineering reports," he said.

"We are in a situation where it is $40m to build a new cathedral and more than $100m to restore it. When they got inside, they found the floor had moved."

The building is insured for full replacement, leaving a funding shortfall if restoration is chosen.

Ryan said there was strong motivation to restore the cathedral.

"It's a special building and there will not be many left."

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- The Press

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