Cardboard cathedral in fire tests

18:57, Sep 25 2012
PLACE OF WORSHIP: An artist's rendering of the cardboard cathedral.

Fire tests have been carried out on Christchurch's cardboard cathedral to see how easily the cardboard material can ignite.

Canterbury University researchers yesterday tested the ignition resistance threshold for the material being used for the 700-seat transitional cathedral.

The $5.3 million Latimer Square structure will be a temporary replacement for the earthquake-damaged Christ Church Cathedral and is being funded by insurance money from the original building.

Deep concrete foundations for the cathedral were laid on Monday, and the building is expected to be completed by February.

Michael Spearpoint said the university had been asked to conduct fire tests on the cardboard material by Holmes Fire, the consulting company designing the fire engineering for the temporary building.

"There are options for how the cardboard will be treated and we have been testing different products to see how they perform when exposed to a potential fire," he said.


The tests involved exposing the cardboard to different heat energy levels and experiments with coating products.

Spearpoint said the cardboard's performance was similar to wood of the same thickness.

"You do need a pretty reasonably sized fire for the cardboard to catch fire, and some of these coatings make it much more difficult to catch fire."

He said it was the first time the researchers had conducted such tests.