Majority support for modern cathedral

08:24, Apr 14 2013
Once-iconic Christ Church Cathedral is now surrounded by long grass and fences, its crumbled centre open to the elements.

The ‘‘overwhelming majority’’ of Anglican leaders are in favour of a new, modern Christ Church Cathedral with not a single person voting for restoration.

The church held its synod yesterday where more than 220 Anglican representatives across the diocese expressed their views on the design options for the earthquake-damaged cathedral.

Last week the church revealed three designs for the Christchurch icon – restoration, a reinterpretation of the original cathedral in modern materials, or a completely new building with a sculptural spire.

Anglican diocese spokesman Jayson Rhodes said Bishop Victoria Matthews asked for a ‘‘show of hands’’ from the synod about the three designs.

‘‘No one wanted the restoration option, about six or seven people put their hands up for the traditional option and the vast, overwhelming majority put their hands up for the contemporary design.

‘‘A lot of hard work has gone into this over the last 18 months and the show of hands was to get an idea of how the church was feeling.


A Press poll showed the contemporary design won just under 40 per cent support, or about 4700 votes.

Restoration attracted about 29 per cent of votes and the traditional design received about 27 per cent. Five per cent of the voters wanted something else, rather than the three schemes presented.

Close to 12,000 people voted online.

Consultation would finish in the first week of May and the Church Property Trustees would make a decision before the end of next month, Rhodes said.

The trustees were at the synod but did not vote on their preferred option.

Restore Christ Church Cathedral spokesman Mark Belton said the vote was ‘‘what we expected’’.

‘‘Especially as they [the church] have all been told that the restoration option could cost up to $220 million which we all know is a ridiculously exaggerated figure and is not supported by anyone."

Rhodes said the criticism did not achieve anything and costings had been compiled by ‘‘professionals’’.

Prominent British and Australian critics had mixed feelings about the modern design for the cathedral.

Australian architecture critic Elizabeth Farrelly, who writes a column for the Sydney Morning Herald, backed restoration and said the modern designs ranged from ‘‘cold architectural cleverness to outright Salt Lake City vulgarity’’.

Christchurch architect Ian Cumberpatch liked the contemporary scheme saying it ‘‘makes a nice statement about it being time to move on’’.

The Press