New Zealand’s Iconic Christchurch Cathedral Will Finally be Rebuilt After Devastating 2011 Earthquake

Next year marks 9 years since an earthquake devastated the quaint cityscape of New Zealand’s Christchurch with its splendid cathedral.

Christchurch, the biggest city on New Zealand’s South Island, was already rebuilding from a previous earthquake when a magnitude 6.3 earthquake struck during the lunch hour on Feb. 22, 2011.

Not only was Christ Church Cathedral, seat of the Anglican bishop of Christchurch, partly ruined, but much of the downtown was destroyed or left uninhabitable. Even more tragic were the deaths of 185 people.

A temporary replacement designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and constructed out of cardboard — yes, cardboard — was erected in the aftermath as a debate ensued over whether Sir George Gilbert Scott’s Victorian-era cathedral should be rebuilt. The debate turned heated with litigation and interventions from politicians and historic preservationists.

Meanwhile, the Transitional Cathedral, which isn’t strictly constructed out of cardboard as it includes other building materials, has became a landmark in its own right.

Auckland University architecture professor Andrew Barrie, author of a coffee table book on the design, calls it the country’s “most recognized building.” Barrie’s assessment, if true, is quite the indictment of the architecture found elsewhere in New Zealand. Then again, the country is primarily known for its natural beauty, world-class wine and millions of sheep.

Philanthropists stepped forward with money to rebuild Sir George’s Gothic Revival design — the only N.Z. church credited to him. One such pledge came from the Hamish Ogston Foundation. It offered 4 million N.Z. dollars (about $2.6 million).

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Dennis Lennox