New cathedral design options divide

OPTION ONE: Restoration.
OPTION ONE: Restoration.
The interior of the cathedral as it was.
The interior of the cathedral as it was.
OPTION TWO: Traditional.
OPTION TWO: Traditional.
The interior of the traditional design.
The interior of the traditional design.
OPTION THREE: Contemporary.
OPTION THREE: Contemporary.
The interior of the contemporary design.
The interior of the contemporary design.

Opinions are split between old and new after design options for the new Christ Church Cathedral were unveiled.

Released by Anglican leaders, the three options are a complete restoration, a reinterpretation of the neo-Gothic cathedral in modern materials and a completely new building. All three designs incorporate the iconic Rose Window in the west wall facing Cathedral Square.

Public reaction has been mixed, with an online poll by The Press recording 30.3 per cent of the votes for the restoration option, 30.4 per cent for traditional and 33.7 per cent for the contemporary design as of 11.30am.

Just over 5 per cent of voters wanted something else.

Prominent figures in the city are also at odds over what design should be adopted.

Mayor Bob Parker believed the contemporary option ''points us to where we need to be thinking as a city''.

''I love the idea of something new. I think it's about looking forward rather than looking back, and this design helps with that,'' he said.

Parker said the contemporary option being the cheapest and quickest to build was a bonus.

''There's another reason why the contemporary vision starts to make a lot more sense, on the basis of costs and time alone,'' he said.

''It's time to move on and this building can actually play a role in helping us move on.''

Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Fund Trust chairwoman Anna Crighton strongly supported the restoration design.

''I was one of the people who said right after the first earthquake that as far as heritage was concerned, the restoration of the cathedral was non-negotiable. My view has not changed,'' she said.

She said the contemporary design reminded her of ''a whalebone archway'' and the traditional option was ''sort of a halfway thing that's neither new nor old''.

The cost estimate for restoration was reasonable, she said, and the time it was expected to take was ''still less than the time it took to build it in the first place''.

Great Christchurch Buildings Trust co-chairman Philip Burdon said the cost of the designs was ''utterly absurd''.

''The reality is that [the designs] are self-serving and distorted,'' he said.

Burdon and the trust had been fighting the demolition of the cathedral and supported the restoration of the historic building.

Press.co.nz readers have also been forthcoming with opinions through online comments and The Press's Facebook page.

Ian Blackie said: ''The first option, it is not only the way it was but also by far the best.''

Murray Hall called the contemporary option ''an architectural eyesore''.

Toni Hodge proposed ''leaving the ruins as a memorial and putting the new cathedral elsewhere, or alongside. Failing that, option 3 is striking and will become as iconic and photographed as the old cathedral, and gives everyone a fresh start''.

Sweetie said: ''Contemporary. The new building WILL be a legacy of the earthquake. Coventry Cathedral built after the devastation of the WWII is a wonderful memorial to those lost. Let's have something new, built to the new code and keep our wonderful memories of the old Cathedral as just that, memories. The new Cathedral, with modern building materials, insulated, designed for the choristers will be fantastic. I am looking forward to hearing Cathedral Grammar Choir singing in our new safe Cathedral.''

The Press