Bold vision for Square surprises Anglicans

10:06, Oct 20 2013
Ian Taylor
GRAND VISION: Ian Taylor says his idea could give people a reason to come to Christchurch.

The Anglican diocese has for now quashed any hopes a revolutionary "living cathedral" could transform Cathedral Square.

A grand vision of what could become of Cathedral Square and the relic of its earthquake-damaged cathedral was unveiled yesterday by Kiwi computer graphics pioneer Ian Taylor.

Taylor, whose company created ground-breaking imagery for cricket and the America's Cup, turned concept plans into a fly-over animation of an all-encompassing vision for the square.

Ian Taylor on Cathedral Square
NEW AND OLD: Ian Taylor wants to generate discussion. "We only get one shot at this."

Anglican Bishop not considering new design

However, Bishop Victoria Matthews this morning told The Press the plan was "not a design officially under consideration".

"We didn't even know if was going to be released. 

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"At this point it is not the design for the new cathedral," Matthews said.

While Matthews said it was a "highly innovative and creative design", the diocese had only received the plan as a "suggestion" and a major flaw in the large area it encompassed meant it was difficult to seriously consider.

"It would take up a large amount of Cathedral Square - more than the property owned by the Anglican Church."

However, she said she had heard members of the public labelling the post-quake square a "desert" and acknowledged this design might "attract people more than a beautiful cathedral with a lot of concrete".

"But at the moment it is not one of the designs we're looking at."

Expat Kiwi commissioned design

Taylor was at the British Open golf championship when he received a call from Euan Harkness, a London-based expatriate Kiwi who had helped set up the British branch of the Christchurch quake appeal in 2011.

Harkness, the vice-chairman of Barclays Capital, had commissioned an architect to come up with a concept plan for Cathedral Square.

Taylor then brought the design to life in animation form.

He said the architect was a mystery even to him.

What eventuated was an all-encompassing "living cathedral" - a latticed roof which envelops the ruins of the Christ Church Cathedral and the square itself.

A reason to visit Christchurch

"When I saw it I thought, 'this could be a reason to come to Christchurch'," Taylor said.

"It could be a Sagrada Familia in Barcelona or the Eiffel Tower or the Sydney Opera House."

Taylor unveiled the plan at the Canterbury Employers' Chamber of Commerce annual meeting yesterday.

The concept was not about starting a heated debate but about providing the people of Christchurch with something they could see and discuss, he said.

Taylor said the whole country cared about the city.

"We only get one shot at this. Not just Christchurch. New Zealand only gets one shot. Please don't blow it."

The idea was "out of the box" and could serve as a monument and as a cathedral, he said.

"It has real power that a city can have a cathedral frozen in time - it could be a living cathedral and a monument to the earthquakes."

Taylor hoped the initiative would prompt more designers to create bold visions for the future of Christchurch.

The Press