Mixed reaction to cathedral idea

Last updated 05:00 12/04/2012
Don Donnithorne
NEW STRENGTH: A drawing of Canterbury architect Don Donnithorne's concept of how the cathedral could look.

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Christchurch Earthquake 2011

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Architect Don Donnithorne's design for a new cathedral has ruffled a few feathers among Christchurch residents.

The reaction to the design was mixed, with many likening it to a prison or medieval building.

Architect Peter Beaven said that at first glance he thought the cathedral design was a kind of Bavarian castle.

"The whole thing is a misjudgment."

He said the flat roof, horizontal spires and glass canopies were completely wrong for the cathedral.

Instead, he would like to see a rebuild of Christ Church Cathedral, which he said could be easily achieved for $20 million.

Beaven proposed a perfectly proportioned monumental spire, the same height and size as the old one, as a February 2011 earthquake memorial.

He said the cathedral had the same power as the Houses of Parliament in London, and to lose it would be a disaster.

Art historian Ian Lochhead said that for a building that was 75 per cent intact, it would not be appropriate to put a contrasting tower on it.

"The most appropriate response is to retain as much of the existing building as can be repaired and strengthened and to reconstruct the parts that completely failed."

The tower should be rebuilt in accordance with the original design.

The tower was supposed to have been made using timber instead of stone, which was why it failed, Lochhead said.

Christchurch City councillor Aaron Keown was enthusiastic about the design.

The design was inspiring and he was glad he could still tell it was the cathedral. "Any plans that incorporate pieces of the old building, I'll support," he said.

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- The Press


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