Cardboard cathedral festival begins

ASHLEIGH STEWART
Last updated 05:00 07/08/2013
Cardboard Cathedral
DAVID HALLETT/Fairfax NZ
AWAKE MY SOUL: The Christchurch City Choir singing in the cardboard cathedral for the first time last night.

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The cardboard cathedral's opening festival began last night, with a performance by the Christchurch City Choir.

It was the first of 10 concerts as part of the cathedral's Joyfully Un-Munted Festival.

The cathedral, designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and incorporating 98 beams encased in cardboard, had been subject to construction delays after initially being scheduled to open in February.

An emotional Bishop Victoria Matthews was finally handed a fitting cardboard key to the cathedral on Friday, to mark the structure changing hands from contractors to the Anglican diocese.

However, not everyone was sold on the cathedral's modern design. Ashburton residents Colleen Inwood and Norma Tait agreed while the cathedral was architecturally-sound, it was "very temporary".

The cathedral can accommodate up to 700 people and has an expected lifespan of 50 years. The north-facing Trinity Window, above the entrance, is made of coloured glass featuring images from the original Christ Church Cathedral's rose window, which collapsed in the June 2011 earthquakes.

It opened its doors to the public at 9am yesterday, to one solitary admirer.

Central city resident Ross Evans was the first to inspect the church when it opened at 9am. "I like the place, it sort of grows on you, doesn't it?"

About half a dozen people trickled in after Evans, and for Woolston resident Tau, it was a particularly special moment.

"This was the spot where I got married, in the old St John's Church in 1965," she said. "It's very interesting."

Last week there were questions raised over whether the $5.3 million temporary Anglican cathedral would be ready before its scheduled opening.

While there was still "fine tuning" to be done, in clearing the foyer and finalising places for furniture, volunteer manager Nicky Lee said it was "a relief to get to this point, but it's a real delight, too".

"There's always been a great sense of belonging in the city in regards to the cathedral," she said.

A service was held for the regulars on Sunday, and it was a "real sense of coming home for them".

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