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$6-million cardboard cathedral opens in quake-struck New Zealand city

The new cathedral was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. "Even concrete buildings can be destroyed by earthquakes very easily, but paper buildings cannot," he said. Bridgit Anderson / AFP - Getty Images

A $6-million cardboard cathedral was officially dedicated in New Zealand on Thursday, replacing the neo-Gothic structure destroyed in a 2011 earthquake that killed 185 people.

Made from nearly 100 24-inch cardboard tubes coated with waterproof polyurethane, the new building in Christchurch is expected to last for more than a decade while a permanent replacement is built.

It includes a mosaic of colored, triangular glass etched with images from the original cathedral’s facade, which dates to 1864.

Acting dean Lynda Patterson told Agence France-Presse that the official opening of the innovative structure marked a major milestone in the city's recovery from the devastating 6.3-magnitude quake that leveled much of the downtown area.

"The old cathedral symbolized the city in many ways and we think this cathedral is a symbol that Christchurch is regrouping and rebuilding," she told AFP.

This image shows the damaged cathedral after an earthquake in Christchurch on February 22, 2011. Reuters / Don Scott / Christchurch Press

"The community has a cathedral again. It's a place where people can come for quiet contemplation in the city center and somewhere we can hold concerts and art exhibitions."

Dean described the building in her weekly diocese newsletter [PDF link] as “wonderful” and “whimsical.”

Japanese architect Shigeru Ban, who has been developing the recycled tubes as an emergency relief building material since 1986, told Architecture Daily that “the strength of the building has nothing to do with the strength of the material.”

“Even concrete buildings can be destroyed by earthquakes very easily, but paper buildings cannot,” he said.

A dedication service began at 7 p.m. local time (3 a.m. ET) Thursday.

A court last month gave initial approval for demolition of the remains of the original cathedral, to make way for a multi-million dollar replacement, the New Zealand Herald reported.

The interior of the Anglican Church of New Zealand, made from cardboard, built in Christchurch to replace the historic Anglican cathedral destroyed in the 2011 earthquake. Bridgit Anderson / AFP - Getty Images

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